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Advancing the Human & Civil Rights of People with Disabilities in Illinois



    Abuse and Neglect


Yes, depending on the facts of each case and available resources.  If we are not able to assist you, we will provide suggestions for self-advocacy and referrals to agencies that may be able to help.

You can view our Priorities page which has more information about the type of cases we handle and our case selection process.

In some circumstances individual civil claims are filed in court in response to allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation.  These cases have strict timelines called statutes of limitation.  Communication with a lawyer as soon as possible is very important.  Assistance in finding a lawyer is available through The Illinois Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service.

EFE addresses abuse, neglect and exploitation in a variety of ways including:

  • Self-advocacy advice
  • Legal advocacy services
  • Systemic advocacy through facility monitoring
  • Systems oversight
  • Investigations consistent with our priorities

For more information on our role in addressing abuse, neglect and exploitation, see these web pages on our site:

In some circumstances, criminal charges can be brought against people who abuse, neglect or exploit a person with disabilities. Report allegations of crimes to the most appropriate law enforcement agency, especially if an immediate response is critical.

  • Call the Office of Inspector General at the US Department of Health & Human Services (DHS) if the person is in a program that is licensed or funded by DHS.
    • 800-368-1463 (voice and tty)
  • Call the Illinois Department of Public Health (DPH) if the person is in a nursing home, a hospital or a developmental disability institution that is operated by the State of Illinois.
    • 800-252-4343 (voice)
    • 800-547-0466 (tty)


For people ages 18 or older in a group home, community integrated living arrangement (CILA), day or residential program, or state-run mental health or developmental disability facility, call:

Office of Inspector General, Department of Human Services
Voice/TTY:  800-368-1463

For any nursing home resident, hospital patient or resident of a state-run developmental disability facility, call:

Department of Public Health
Voice: 800-252-4343
TTY:  800-547-0466

For children up to age 17, call:

Department of Children and Family Services
Voice: 800-252-4343
TTY 800-358-5117

For people over 18 in a private home or in the community, call:

Department on Aging
Voice/TTY: 800-252-8966 (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Voice/TTY: 800-279-0400 (after working hours, weekends and holidays)

The Illinois Department of Human Services has a webpage called, FAQs of reporting Abuse/Neglect of People with Disabilities.  It has more information about who to call to report abuse, when to call and what to report.  Also, if you need help filing a complaint, you can contact us.

Call 911 or your local emergency services.

The most frequently identified signs of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation include:

  • The person with disabilities has unexplained bruises or cuts that could not have been caused by an accident.
  • The person with disabilities has untreated health problems.
  • The caregiver does not allow visitors.
  • People in a position of trust who have access to the person with disabilities’ money seem to be using the money for themselves.
  • The person with disabilities does not have adequate food, clothing or personal care items when there is enough money to purchase them.
  • The personal items of a person with disabilities continually disappear.
  • The financial assets of a person with disabilities are transferred without his or her approval.

For more information see the Illinois Attorney General’s webpage about Defending Your Rights.

Generally, neglect can occur when an employee, agency or facility fails to provide adequate medical care, personal care or maintenance that causes pain, injury or emotional distress. Neglect can cause physical or mental deterioration. It can increase the risk of injury, harm or death.

To learn more information, visit the Illinois Department of Human Services’ website – FAQs of reporting Abuse/Neglect of People with Disabilities.

Generally, abuse includes:

  • Any physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Financial exploitation

Abuse involves an intentional act and can involve:

  • A caregiver’s inappropriate action
  • A caregiver directing a person to mistreat another person with a disability
  • A caregiver directing people to engage in inappropriate behavior or acts to which they are not able to consent

Financial exploitation generally is taking a person’s money or property through deception, intimidation or theft.

You can find more information about how people with disabilities are more at risk and prevention tips from this document published by the Illinois Department of Human Services.


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Last updated: November 21, 2019

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