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

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FAQ

How is abuse defined?
How is neglect defined?
What are common signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation?
What should I do in an emergency when a person’s life or health is in danger?
Where do I report abuse, neglect or exploitation?
Where do I report abuse of a person 18 to 21 years old?
Is abuse, neglect or exploitation ever a crime?
What is EFE’s role in addressing abuse, neglect and exploitation?
Can I file a lawsuit if I have been abused, neglected or exploited?
Does EFE provide individual legal representation in cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation?
What if I am not sure I have a legal claim?
What if you can’t help me?
What will happen when I contact EFE?

How is abuse defined?

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.

How is neglect defined?

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.

What are common signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation?

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.

What should I do in an emergency when a person’s life or health is in danger?

Call 911 or your local emergency services.

Where do I report abuse, neglect or exploitation?

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.

Where do I report abuse of a person 18 to 21 years old?

  • 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)

Is abuse, neglect or exploitation ever a crime?

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.

What is EFE’s role in addressing abuse, neglect and exploitation?

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:

Can I file a lawsuit if I have been abused, neglected or exploited?

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.

Does EFE provide individual legal representation in cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation?

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.

What if I am not sure I have a legal claim?

If you are not sure you have a legal claim, you can contact us. We will review your request to determine what assistance we can provide.

What if you can’t help me?

If we are not able to help, we will provide suggestions for self-advocacy and provide referrals to another agency that may be able to help.

What will happen when I contact EFE?

When you contact us by phone, someone will take a message from you or you will need to leave a voice-mail message. You can also reach us by completing our online Contact Us form. We will generally respond within three business days. Â We will ask a few questions about you and your specific request. Our legal team will determine if we can help you in any way. We will contact you by phone or in writing to discuss our decision with you.


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Last updated: August 31, 2020

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