Your browser does not support JavaScript!

Institutional Abuse

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: 

  • Children
  • Adults with learning difficulties 
  • Adults with mental health issues 
  • Older people 

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: 

  • Care Homes 
  • Hospitals 
  • Within NHS care 
  • Schools 
  • Prisons 
  • Churches and other Religious establishments 
  • Foster homes 
  • Group homes 
  • The Scouts, Brownies and Cadets 
  • Out of school activities such as a youth club 
  • Swimming clubs 
  • Sports clubs 

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 
  • Financial abuse 
  • Hunger or dehydration 
  • Restrictions or confinement 
  • Physical or verbal abuse 
  • Public discussion of personal matters 
  • Inappropriate restraint 
  • Pressure ulcers

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. 

  • Overcrowded environments 
  • A withdrawal from family, friends or community 
  • Lack of privacy or dignity for a person as an individual 
  • Unhygienic environments 
  • The treatment of adults like children 
  • Lack of respect for culture or religion 
  • Discouragement of visits to outside people 
  • Limited staff
  • 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: 

  • Insufficiently supervised 
  • Inadequately trained 
  • 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.