While abuse among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning “plus” (LGBTQ+) people occurs at the same rates and in similar ways as their heterosexual peers, LGBTQ+ people may face forms of abuse or barriers to accessing support specifically based on prejudices against their gender expression or sexuality.

Here are some unique challenges to LGBTQIAP+

Abuse of people with Disabilities

Abuse is a serious threat to many people with disabilities. The following information provides an overview of abuse, describes indicators of abuse, and suggests ways in which you can support people with disabilities who may experience abuse.
Physical signs include:

Behavioral signs include:

Other signs include:

Neglect: this happens when caregivers do not meet the needs of people they serve. A caregiver can be someone who is paid to help or a family member. Neglect may involve not giving someone food, care, or necessary medication. It is also neglect when someone doesn’t stop another person from being abused. Common examples:

Systemic abuse: Systemic abuse refers to practices that take away a person’s independence and dignity. Systemic abuse happens in settings where other people are making decisions for the person who has a disability. Government bodies and bureaucrats can also be involved in systemic abuse.

Institutional abuse: This is a form of systemic abuse. In institutional settings, power imbalances often exist between service providers and people they serve. Research has shown that people with disabilities who live in institutions are more likely to experience abuse than those who live in the community.

Contributing factors to abuse Caregiver stress: Caregiver or family stress may precipitate the abuse of a person with a disability. Often the abuser will blame the person with the disability for the abuse, saying that the disability itself “provokes” the abuse. Negative role models: The abuser may have learned that abusive behavior is acceptable, usually through their own experiences of abuse. Negative stereotypes: People with disabilities may be seen as a burden or passive or worthless. These stereotypes often contribute to abusive behavior.

Who are the abusers? Often the abusers are friends, family members, caregivers, or service providers.

Barriers to disclosure People with disabilities face many barriers to disclosing the abuse. Examples include:
  • Fear: The person may be unable to escape the abuser’s control. The abuser may be threatening to withdraw services, remove the person’s children, or hurt the person’s family members or pets.

Economic dependence: Economic dependence or poverty can keep people with a disability trapped in an abusive relationship. They may lack financial resources, educational qualifications, or employment skills or experience.

Isolation: Some people with disabilities have had little or no contact with anyone other than their caregivers. They may not have people who can act as advocates on their behalf.

Lack of access. People with disabilities often do not have access to appropriate support services.

Credibility issues: People with disabilities are often considered to be less credible. For example, they may be seen as unreliable witnesses in court simply because they have a disability.

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult. An older adult is someone age 60 or older. The abuse occurs at the hands of a caregiver or a person the elder trusts. Common types of elder abuse include:

  • Physical abuse is when an elder experiences illness, pain, injury, functional impairment, distress, or death as a result of the intentional use of physical force and includes acts such as hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, and burning.
  • Sexual abuse involves forced or unwanted sexual interaction of any kind with an older adult. This may include unwanted sexual contact or penetration or non-contact acts such as sexual harassment.
  • Emotional or Psychological Abuse refers to verbal or nonverbal behaviors that inflict anguish, mental pain, fear, or distress on an older adult. Examples include humiliation or disrespect, verbal and non-verbal threats, harassment, and geographic or interpersonal isolation.
  • Neglect is the failure to meet an older adult’s basic needs. These needs include food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and essential medical care.
  • Financial Abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an elder’s money, benefits, belongings, property, or assets for the benefit of someone other than the older adult.

Elder abuse is a serious problem in the United States. The available information is an underestimate of the problem because the number of nonfatal injuries is limited to older adults who are treated in emergency departments. The information doesn’t include those treated by other providers or those that do not need or do not seek treatment. Additionally, many cases are not reported because elders are afraid or unable to tell police, friends, or family about the violence. Victims have to decide whether to tell someone they are being hurt or continue being abused by someone they depend upon or care for deeply.

Elder abuse is common. Abuse, including neglect and exploitation, is experienced by about 1 in 10 people aged 60 and older who live at home. From 2002 to 2016, more than 643,000 older adults were treated in the emergency department for nonfatal assaults and over 19,000 homicides occurred.

What are the consequences?

Elder abuse can have several physical and emotional effects on an older adult. Victims are fearful and anxious. They may have problems with trust and be wary of others. Many victims suffer physical injuries. Some are minor, like cuts, scratches, bruises, and welts. Others are more serious and can cause lasting disabilities. These include head injuries, broken bones, constant physical pain, and soreness. Physical injuries can also lead to premature death and make existing health problems worse.

How can we prevent Elder Abuse

  • Listen to older adults and their caregivers to understand their challenges and provide support.
  • Report abuse or suspected abuse to local adult protective services, long-term care, or the police.
  • Educate oneself and others about how to recognize and report elder abuse.
  • Learn how the signs of elder abuse differ from the normal aging process.
  • Check-in on older adults who may have few friends and family members.
  • Provide over-burdened caregivers with support such as help from friends, family, or local relief care groups; adult day care programs; counseling; outlets intended to promote emotional well-being.
  • Encourage and assist persons (either caregivers or older adults) having problems with drug or alcohol abuse in getting help.