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Importance of Investigating Abuser Characteristics in Elder Emotional/Psychological Abuse: Results From Adult Protective Services Data

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2017
8 pages
Using indicators based on existing literature, this study collected theoretically important abuser characteristics and victim vulnerabilities in cases of emotional/psychological abuse of elderly persons, using the Elder Abuse Decision Support System (EADSS) to test a theory of emotional/psychological abuse.
Elder emotional/psychological abuse is the infliction of mental anguish on older adults through verbal or non-verbal acts. In the current study, 810 alleged emotional/psychological abuse cases were investigated by caseworkers in six Illinois adult protective services (APS) agencies; 466 individuals endorsed at least one item on the Older Adult Psychological Abuse Measure (OAPAM). Bivariate ordinary linear regression results established that all abuser characteristics were predictive of emotional/psychological abuse scores. In the hierarchical regression model where abuser characteristics were entered after victim vulnerabilities, abuser characteristics predicted emotional/psychological abuse above and beyond victim vulnerabilities (R2 = 0.349, p < .001). Abuser risk and abuser’s negative attitudes towards victims remained as significant predictors in the final model. Post hoc analysis identified significant items of abuser risk and negative attitudes, including an emotionally draining relationship between abuser and victim, abuser’s poor temper control, and abuser’s angry feelings towards victims. The authors recommend that abuser weaknesses and strengths as highlighted in the theoretical framework should be further investigated for future prevention and intervention in cases of emotional/psychological abuse of elderly persons. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017