Institutional or organisational abuse is abuse which usually takes place outside of the home, typically in an institution designed to make people feel safe.
What is institutional abuse?
Institutional abuse is one of the ten types of abuse that are listed in The Care and Support Statutory Guidance. Institutional or organisational abuse is often an imbalance of power, which can lead to neglect and poor care practices. Those who are typically victim to institutional abuse usually fall into one of four categories, they are:
Adults with learning difficulties
Adults with mental health issues
Places where institutional abuse might occur
There are a number of different places that this type of abuse might occur, it is usually in an organisation that is controlled by someone who is not in the family of the victim.
Some places where institutional abuse might occur, but are not limited to, include:
Within NHS care
Churches and other Religious establishments
The Scouts, Brownies and Cadets
Out of school activities such as a youth club
Examples of institutional abuse
It can be more difficult to pinpoint institutional abuse because it doesn’t have to involve violence. A sign of organisational abuse might be something as simple as not allowing a person in care to watch the television in their room.
This might not sound like much, but if your right to choose is removed, then it can count as abuse.
This type of abuse can take many different forms, whilst it can involve violence it can also include neglect or poor professional practices. This can be a result of how an organisation is run, such as the policies and processes they have in place.
Below you’ll see some examples of institutional abuse, however it’s important to note that this isn’t everything that it could be. So it’s important that you’re aware of the signs to know when it could be happening to you or a loved one.
Lack of choice – this could be in choosing what to do, what to wear, what to eat etc.
Control of personal belongings or clothing.
Strict regime of the day, such as bed time
Hunger or dehydration
Restrictions or confinement
Physical or verbal abuse
Public discussion of personal matters
Signs Institutional Abuse might be happening
As well as the examples of Institutional abuse that we’ve listed above, there might be other indications within the individual setting that indicate that organisational abuse is occurring, even if you can’t see it physically on a person.
A withdrawal from family, friends or community
Lack of privacy or dignity for a person as an individual
The treatment of adults like children
Lack of respect for culture or religion
Discouragement of visits to outside people
Poor record keeping
Organisations that don’t allow for involvement of family and friends
Why does Institutional Abuse occur?
Unfortunately there isn’t just one particular reason why institutional abuse can occur, in typically happens in organisations where the staff are:
Unsupported by their management
Poor at conveying information
Institutional abuse can be carried out by just one abuser or a group, depending on circumstances and situations. What’s more, it can span years and sometimes decades as it has been ignored, covered up and sometimes just plainly overlooked as a way of maintaining the reputation of the said organisation.
How you can help stop Institutional Abuse
Institutions will typically have complaint systems in place which makes it a little easier for you to report any type of abuse to the correct person.
It’s also important that you report any abuse to the police, this doesn’t matter whether it occurred five weeks ago or give years ago. Police forces are highly trained in these areas and there are specially trained officers who can deal with allegations of abuse.