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Introduction

Elder abuse is any act within a relationship of trust that results in harm to an older person.  The abuse may be emotional, psychological, financial, physical, sexual, or neglect.  According to the World Health Organization, elder abuse is a violation of human rights and a significant cause of illness, injury, loss of productivity, isolation and despair.

Many people do not discuss their concerns with others because of feelings of shame, fear of retaliation or because the perpetrator may by a family member.  Some people may not realise that they are experiencing abuse, or feel that somehow it is their fault.

Elder abuse is one part of a spectrum of violence that occurs when there are unequal power relationships. Family violence research tells us that where imbalances of power occur in relationships there is a risk of abuse occurring from the dominant person or persons.  These power differences have been interpreted, particularly in relation to family violence, as the result of living in a patriarchal or male orientated society where males and male values dominate.  While in all age groups, the majority of those being abused are female and the abusers are mainly male, this gendered view of violence and abuse becomes blurred somewhat when the abuse occurs in older populations.

In January 2016 Relationships Australia asked visitors to our website a few questions about their experience and understanding of elder abuse in the monthly online two minute survey.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites