The Victim-Perpetrator Problem in Elder Abuse and Neglect

  • Josef Hörl


Today, elder abuse and neglect are acknowledged as a serious social and public health problem. Globally, one in six older adults within community settings becomes a victim. Research on prevalence of abuse in institutional settings is still rare. There is no consensus in defining and measuring abuse and its subtypes (e.g., physical abuse). A couple of risk factors have been identified, e.g., victims are more likely to suffer from dementia. There is an ongoing discussion whether a victim-focused or a perpetrator-focused intervention is more appropriate. Advocates of a victim-focused approach wish to provide a safe environment, emotional support, counselling, etc. applying empowerment principles. Often, they are committed to a wider political agenda by fiercely promoting victim rights. Advocates of a perpetrator-focused approach place more attention on the motivations of the perpetrators. They employ a certain attitude of relativism and even leniency toward offenders and exhibit a tendency to “blaming the victim.”


Elder abuse prevalence Risk factors Victim-focused intervention Perpetrator-focused intervention 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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