Recognizing Abusers

  • Most elder abuse is perpetrated by a family member, caregiver or anyone providing care—including professionals.
  • If an elder abuse victim lives in a long-term care facility, he or she is most likely to experience physical and emotional abuse by a nurse’s assistant.
  • Abusers are typically people who hold a position of trust, with the opportunity to know the victim’s physical or mental vulnerabilities.

Abusers may be:

Other family member
Nursing assistant
Bank employee

Many perpetrators of elder abuse:

  • Have no means of support aside from the alleged victims’ housing, pension and social security checks
  • Have mental illness or disabilities themselves
  • May appear controlling; do not want victim interviewed alone

A 2008 study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) which included abused women in Rhode Island whose perpetrators had been prosecuted, revealed that:

  • Almost 50% of the perpetrators had a prior criminal record

Another 2008 study conducted funded by the NIJ found that:

  • Approximately 50% of perpetrators had been using drugs or alcohol when the abuse occurred
  • Nearly 1/3 of the perpetrators had a history of mental illness
  • Over 1/3 of the perpetrators were unemployed
  • Almost 1/2 of the perpetrators were socially isolated