The problem of elder abuse is a relatively new topic in the field of research on violence .
Much of the early work on this subject does not take into account gender considerations .
The problem is hidden : it is a taboo subject.
It is important to ‘appoint’ the problem.
The forms of such violence may be slightly different forms of violence that affect other groups of elder abuse involves a number of additional factors.
The recognition of elder abuse :
In recent years, the attention to elder abuse and the recognition of the social problem of this phenomenon developed in many countries.
This, however , occurred mainly in the context of the recognition of domestic violence and child abuse . The evolution of the interest given to elder abuse has a number of features in common with what is observed in the case of these other forms of violence : the slow recognition of the phenomenon ; conceptual and definition , emphasis on stress and pathology rather than power relations , relations between the sexes and male violence.
Other forms of violence had previously been identified as social problems (in the United Kingdom, for example , child abuse has been recognized from the late 60s and violence against women from the beginning 70 ) . In addition, while the abuse of children and the elderly were first identified in a professional context , violence against young women was identified by the women’s movement in the context of social action. This difference in social perspective can affect the development of responses and measures adopted in response to various forms of abuse. The problem of elder abuse , however, is a relatively recent topic in the field of research on violence , although just as important as other issues of concern.
The lack of distinction between the sexes
The first research devoted to elder abuse does not specifically take into account gender considerations and were characterized according to the classification developed by Hanmer and Hearn ( 1999) , by a lack of distinction between men and women (gender absent) or an indifference to this distinction (gender neutral ) . Initially, this work does not even take into account the difference between the sexes as a relevant factor in situations of elder abuse . Then things changed and the distinction between the sexes has been taken into account and included in the research, but only as one factor among others. In this case, the potential effects of the distinction between the sexes are diluted among the data and theoretical considerations .
Pillemer and Suitor (1992) , for example, in their study included the sex of the person responsible for the care as a possible additional predictor in elder abuse but they formulated any hypothesis based on the distinction between equality and , while their data showed that violence was more common in the marital context than in other types of relationship, they made ??no comment on the difference between the sexes in their discussion of these data. This marked by ignorance of the distinction between the sexes, or indifference to the distinction approach has remained dominant until relatively recently ( Whittaker, 1995, 1996) .
According to Whittaker (1995), research and theoretical development work is currently underway in a sociopolitical climate focusing on issues of definition and prevalence at the expense of thinking about gender differences . Whittaker identifies key approaches based on an indifference to the distinction between the sexes: the stress reaction ( victim-centered and based on stereotypes of aging and dependency designs approach) , the pathology of abusers ( approach considering all a series of predisposing factors ) and family violence ( approach to safeguard family relationships ‘normal’ ) . She writes about it :
‘ No effort seems to be made ??to include the subjective experience of victims of abuse in the definitions are discussed and the issue of power differences between victims and perpetrators of abuse is hardly taken into account except to emphasize the fact that older women are not children and that addiction is a two-way process characterizing certain relations and , in particular, the relationships between these women and the perpetrators. ‘( Whittaker, 1996, p. 149)
Biggs, Phillipson and Kingston (1995) have developed an approach to elder abuse in terms of domestic violence, which highlights the inequalities of power and emphasizes the position of the victim in which are placed certain social groups. This approach, however , is not always possible to maintain a clear distinction between victims and perpetrators. This is what appears , for example, in the ‘ tactical approach to conflict ‘ ( Gelles and Straus, 1979; Gelles , 1993) , which considers conflicts as products and maintained by both parties. The approach to elder abuse in terms of domestic violence is focused mainly on the theme of violence. This can lead to insufficient recognition of other forms of abuse and neglect ( Biggs, Phillipson and Kingston , 1995). The analysis of domestic violence in terms of ‘ domination ,’ which focuses on the power of the male perpetrators model can serve as a corrective to this approach ( Yllö , 1993).
The model of family violence has been developed again by Bennett, Kingston and Penhale (1997).
Domestic violence can be understood as a form of violence occurring within the family and acting against people helpless and vulnerable. It refers to acts of aggression exercised by an individual, a group or an institution with a major in power against individuals whose power is less. The power imbalance is not necessarily perceived consciously . It is the product of certain modes of interaction between individuals leading to the establishment of relative positions in terms of power (see Hughes , 1995). The model of family violence and consistent with the individual model , cultural and structural oppression (Thompson, 1997, 1998) . However, none of these models can not be considered fully taking into account the distinction between the sexes ( gender present , cf. Hanmer and Hearn , 1999) and, as we shall see, it is only relatively recently that the began to integrate the analyzes based on the consideration of gender differences .
Aitken and Griffin ( 1996) , developing a feminist perspective , suggest that elder abuse should be considered as a category of domestic violence, but it requires an analysis in terms of power relations and gender :
‘ ( . ) The relationship between abuse and assist the elderly and between elder abuse and domestic violence should be reviewed.
Or assistance , or domestic violence can constitute in themselves a sufficient explanation of the phenomena of elder abuse , a more systematic consider elder abuse manner and allowing proper integration of the issue of differences gender , should appeal to notions of power and dependency. ‘(p. 139)
It is likely that , in situations of elder abuse , a complex set of sociological and psychological factors involved in structural, organizational , family and individual levels and between levels. The feminist perspective emphasizes the role of gender and power relations in domestic violence. It considers the social, political and economic processes as instruments of patriarchal domination over women. Violence is the means used by men to maintain their power in social, family and relational level . However, various causal factors must be taken into consideration and must take into account individual differences. The additional variable of age must also be taken into account in the analysis of elder abuse .
As previously stated, the elder abuse is the latest form of interpersonal violence has been recognized as a serious problem . However , it is also an area that has long been hidden from public attention and considered taboo. Much abuse cases , as has been discussed elsewhere (Bennett et al. , 1997) , occur in private and remain exempt from the attention of the authorities . Make private behavior a matter of public concern is not without difficulties , due in part to opposition from defenders of the right of the family to remain as private space, free from state intervention . It is also a difficult one to address reality as it challenges a number of myths and beliefs about society that are built gradually and are firmly rooted in it. The idea that the family is a warm and protective environment or the idea that institutions provide some security to the elderly who live there are examples .
It was not easy to challenge this taboo and ideas , or to encourage people to talk about certain situations and even less to disclose . The issue of sexual abuse of older women has proved extremely difficult to tackle , largely because of the difficulty many individuals to represent older people as beings with a sexuality people. Raise the issue of sexual abuse of children in the early 80s has also not been without difficulties and it is feared that it is very difficult to understand that elderly woman may be subjected to violence sexual . During the 90s, the problem of violence against the elderly has been raised , however , silent on these issues has been questioned and the taboo has gradually eroded .
Identify the problem
Given the concealment of the problem, the silence that is imposed is understandable. We are not talking of abuse that occur in private and often they are not even recognized as such. Abuse taking place within an institution are , to some extent , less hidden but they have as much chance of being not appointed. It is therefore important to break the taboo that the abuse be designated as such. In addition, this type of situation should not be addressed purely objective but customized to the actual experience of the individuals concerned is taken into account .
The power of language is important from this point of view. Aitken and Griffin (1996) and Whittaker (1996 ) note that during the decade 1984-1994 , the gendered nature of elder abuse was gradually covered by a change in terminology since the term ‘major mother abused ‘( granny bashing ) was precisely replaced by that of ‘ elder abuse ‘ (elder abuse ) . This change can be presented only as an abandonment of a patronizing and stigmatizing language because it also has the effect of concealing the fact that older women are more often abused than men.
It is also observed in studies on abuse a tendency to homogenize the elderly who do not take into account individual differences and considers the elderly as being all part of a single undifferentiated group. These analyzes further sin by a failure to take full account of the differences between the sexes. We must also consider what is called and those involved in the appointment process so that situations are , where possible , recognized and treated by the people who are involved.
Meaning that individuals give to a situation and the evolution of how they understand the situation and processes are necessary components of this process but the work that take into account such issues are relatively rare. The fact that elder abuse was initially identified in a professional context is not irrelevant because, unlike what happens in the case of abuse of young women, older people stay away any discussion or debate on violence or situations of abuse unless they find themselves in the role of ‘victim’ of ‘ perpetrator ‘ or witness.
Various forms of abuse
Despite the absence of any legislative or official definition of abuse mentioned by McCreadie (1996 ) and some other authors, most people working on these issues agree on the following different types of abuse : physical abuse , sexual abuse; neglect, financial exploitation (exploitation and misappropriation of property and possessions of an individual ) psychological and emotional abuse. At these types of abuse, you can also add abandonment, forced isolation and deprivation of essential to everyday life elements (heat, food or objects such dentures, for example). Some of these types of abuse appear to relate specifically to the elderly: neglect or financial exploitation, for example, can take forms that are not found commonly in cases of child abuse or young women but abuse of young women with disabilities may have commonalities with violence against the elderly.
During the last decade, specializing in elder abuse literature has been a very important development. These studies generally accept that perpetrators are more often men than women and that women are more at risk of abuse than men. This sometimes leads to systematically arrange the men in the category of perpetrators of abuse and violence and that women victims. From a purely numerical point of view , it is not wrong but it is necessary to consider the abuse in a broader context and also, perhaps, from a slightly different perspective. The context of abuse and power relations that favor in an unequal society must be taken into consideration , as well as for women perpetrators and men abused .
The time may be ripe to integrate the analysis of abuse some elements belonging to theoretical frameworks of social psychology and social labeling ( Scheff , 1974). The company usually associated with older men aggressiveness, perversion and the fear of aging and decline . Media and social welfare agencies say one thing with abuse as a behavior can be explained , if not excused. The examination of how this discourse is constructed may shed new light on child abuse and its characteristics from the perspective of gender difference .
Figures collected in all countries show a systematic way that women are more often victims of abuse and men more frequently perpetrators of abuse. However, McCreadie and Quigley ( 1999) show , from a case study conducted in the UK , an increasing number of very old people ( 80 and over ) are abused . Straus (1993 ) suggests that cases of violence by women on men are rarely the subject of official statements and , therefore , the relationship between gender and elder abuse is perhaps not as clear . Some caution must prevail here in order to take into account a range of distinct but interrelated factors .
Barnett, Miller- Perrin and Perrin (1997) reviewed the work examining the characteristics of abusers and victims of abuse. The results of these studies in terms of sex are somewhat contradictory . Figures Protection Service of adults in the United States indicate that the majority of victims (68%) are women ( Tatara , 1998). In an earlier survey conducted in Boston and in which 65 % of respondents were women, the majority of victims (52%) were men ( Pillemer and Finkelhor, 1988). The rate of male victims of abuse (5.1%) was twice that of women (2.5%) and this while the elderly population was overwhelmingly female .
Recall, however, that women are victims of violence in general and more serious injuries than men , with the consequence that women are more likely often forced to seek treatment and thus come to the attention of public authorities . Men are also more frequently violent than women and more willing to commit serious violence than women . According to Miller and Dodder (1989) , some studies show that men are more willing to use physical violence while it is more common for women to engage in acts of negligence more passive nature .
Men also more likely to live with someone else , which can increase the risk of abuse as one of the risk factors for elder abuse is the fact of living with others (Barnett et al . 1997). This is also consistent with research on the characteristics and profiles of abusers : it is often a long living with the victim ( adult children , spouses, grandchildren , brothers or sisters parent, or other relatives) ( Tatara , 1993). Pillemer and Finkelhor (1998), cases of abuse by persons not belonging to the family of the victim are rare abuse occurs mainly between spouses in old age (see also Halicka 1995; Hydle Johns , 1995) .
Historically, elder abuse within a family context was first conceived as a problem between a woman abuser and elderly parents , often a mother, in the context of a relationship of care. However, according to the study by Aitken in Northamptonshire, it is the son rather than spouses who are responsible for abuse against seniors (Aitken and Griffin, 1996).
Women, according to this study, are victims of physical and psychological abuse of men . This presumably reflects gendered behaviors and demonstrates the persistence of patriarchal relations within the society. The literature consistently invokes the ‘ dysfunctional family .’ To Whittaker (1996), this notion creates the impression that child abuse is a symptom within a family functioning abnormally , allowing , therefore, to avoid introducing into the debate the question of differences between equality.
Kosberg ( 1998) reported interesting data to support the hypothesis of a ‘return of the balance ‘ in relation to previous abuses of power : a woman or children who have been subjected to a previous era of ill-treatment within the family and avenge the man responsible for these abuses in his old age . Swedish researchers ( Grafstrom , and Wimblad Norberg , 1992) reported some data that seem to confirm this type of dynamic in their study of persons having charge of elderly in Sweden . Jack (1994 ), however, interprets the maltreatment exerted by a woman on a woman or older man ‘s point of view of exchange relationships within a society characterized by dysfunction and oppression.
We are currently witnessing a dramatic increase in the number of women at the top level of the pyramid . These women are also generally more economically disadvantaged , which reduces the choices available to them. Needs of health of older women are not taken into account in public policy and poverty and health problems increase for these women the risk of dependency and exploitation. Add to this the fact that many women live alone and that social services are interested in singles rather than couples. In addition, it is not only women who receive assistance who are marginalized . Most of the help and informal care are supported by middle-aged women, who in many cases have just stop caring for their children and also employed.
Abuse of older people is therefore not , as Jack (1994) points out, only be considered from the perspective of the family and interpersonal relationships . The fluidity of power relations and the maintenance of certain dominant patriarchal conceptions are related to abuse in the context of social and medical assistance ( Glendenning and Kingston , 1999). We know that , in some cases, welfare agencies or health incumbent a ‘responsibility to protect ‘ may be directly or inadvertently causing abuse ( Stevenson and Parsloe , 1993). In addition , Jack ( 1994) shows that the dependency relations of power and breaches the norm in relations within these organizations and the mutual dependence ( albeit uneven ) , impotence and breaches favor the appearance and maintenance practices of abuse within personal assistance .
Social assistance between the public and private
The health professionals and social protection have both a supporting role and control, as agents of the state giving them some power within the private sphere of the family (Parker et Penhale , 1998). The work of social protection is actually based on a legitimate exercise of power in concrete human situations. It is essential that players welfare gain an understanding of power involved in the implementation of their ‘ responsibility to protect’ (Stevenson and Parsloe , 1993). An important part of the power of these professionals is determined whether or not they individually consciousness, the legislative framework governing their work.
Professional social protection can also be perceived as having personal power by individuals with whom they work as they are often vulnerable people, deprived of means and status of persons belonging to the most fringe highly marginalized and excluded from society . These professionals , however, are not exercising a power they themselves are also subject to various forms of power : that of the body on which they depend , that of the State and the law , for example. It must be recognized , moreover, that users of social services can also exercise power in their interaction with the representatives of social welfare organizations . They may decide to withhold certain benefits or sometimes react violently. These aggressive back in the elderly behaviors were analyzed in particular by McCreadie (1992).
Assistance benefits were professionalized within health organizations and social protection and are usually presented and perceived as women’s work (Jack , 1994). Illich (1977) used the term ‘social iatrogenesis ‘ to describe how the practices of aid agencies could cause further health problems by increasing stress and bureaucratization benefits. The social organization of welfare and health is part of this process. Seniors receive benefits instead of a treatment. They are perceived and treated as passive beneficiaries rather than active and essential participants in a partnership. Such an approach can increase the stigmatization of older people because generally prohibits any positive result. Are preferred over process the result and content services there .
‘The recognition of impotence which is common to older women and social workers responsible for taking care of them , because of the mixture of prejudice against old age and sexism inherent in the professionalization of social protection, sheds light new cases of elder abuse by social workers because it allows people to see that the abuser and the victim, both equally helpless an individual , organizational and social point of view, are actually locked in a constraint relationship of mutual dependence . The means by which this inability to evolve socially constructed individual and collective elder abuse is the ‘ exchange relationship ‘ institutional welfare. ‘( Jack, 1994, p. 79)
According to the theory of exchange, people’s behavior in a relationship is determined by their assessment of costs and benefits perceived or real focusing for them to continue this relationship ( Frude , 1990). The most dependent person is one who has the least power. However, both less powerless may also seek to maximize gains and minimize its contribution to the relationship. The recipient or the benefits can then be seen ( e) as a nuisance and a subculture of abuse may well develop in situations of social assistance professionalized (see also Aitken and Griffin, 1996).
Jack (1994) builds on the work of Seligman ( 1975) on ‘ learned helplessness’ ( learned helplessness ) to show that some stereotyping of older people as dependent and subject to increasing disability people lead these people to a loss of control in relationships welfare professional. The powerlessness and dependence attributed to the elderly have been identified as playing a role in cases of child abuse in situations of professional and informal care .
Welfare tasks are performed mostly by women and this work is therefore devalued. Older women receiving assistance are also victims of discrimination. According to Jack (1994, p 89 . )
‘ ( . ) For needs related to their dependency are met, older women are forced to abandon their adult status in favor of the social worker whose own limited status within the organization for which it works depends on its complete mastery of the role of assistance. ‘
Research ranging in terms of pathology professionals ignore the problem of social protection and does not add much to the theoretical understanding.
‘ ( . ) The proven both by social workers by benefit recipients impotence acts as a lock keeping them in a relationship of dependency and violence ( . ) Mutual accountability is the key to interdependence without subordination. ‘( Jack, 1994, p. 90 ).
The figure of the ‘ panopticon ‘ analyzed by Foucault could be useful in this context (Foucault , 1970). The Panopticon was originally an architectural project of prison designed by Jeremy Bentham , in which the different levels could be under constant surveillance, detainees can never know if they were being watched or not. Foucault suggests that the techniques of social work supervision in a comparable manner .
In this context, the oversight agencies and institutions of social protection and health , have increased in recent years.