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Statistics: Perpetrators and types of abuse


Perpetrators of older person abuse and neglect can be relatives, friends, neighbours or carers. The most common perpetrator is adult sons, followed closely by adult daughters.

The break up of types of perpetrators is shown in the following chart.

Adult children

Adult children make up the largest number of alleged abusers.

The reasons for this may include:

  • Adult children being ‘forced’ to take on the role of carer
  • A continued cycle of domestic and family violence
  • Increased dependency by the older person on an adult child or grandchild

Spouse or Partner

Domestic violence can continue into older age and this is usually the case with abuse of older people by their spouse or partner.


Friends, other relatives, neighbours and grandchildren follow from adult children as alleged abuse perpetrators.

Types of Abuse

The most common type of abuse reported is psychological followed closely by financial.

  • Often psychological abuse occurs alongside other types of abuse. For example an adult child could threaten to put their parent in a nursing home if they don’t make their child a signatory on their bank account.
  • On this chart physical and sexual abuse are ranked lower than other types of abuse, but it is important to note that this type of abuse is often reported by hospital emergency departments or by police, so under-reporting may be a factor.
Please note: This data used for these charts is based on calls to the NSW Elder Abuse Hotline in 2017.
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