Discriminatory Abuse: Time to Revive a Forgotten Form of Abuse?

Karl Mason, Anusree Biswas Sasidharan, Adi Cooper, Katy Shorten, Jeanette Sutton

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Purpose – Discriminatory abuse has been a distinct category of abuse in safeguarding adults policy since 2000, but it is rarely used in practice according to recent official statistics. As part of a larger project, the authors undertook a literature review to clarify the concept, explore reasons for low reporting and consider recommendations for practice. The findings are presented in this article.
Design / Methodology / Approach – This literature review comprises 35 sources, which were identified using three academic databases, reference harvesting and sector-specific websites. Findings were developed through thematic analysis of the data.
Findings – The literature review demonstrates that definitions of discriminatory abuse stretch from an interpersonal emphasis in policy documents to a more structural approach. There are open questions about the status of discriminatory abuse as a category of abuse, due to the complicated interface between discriminatory motivations and the abusive acts through which they are experienced. A range of factors can obscure its identification, particularly the hidden, stigmatised and normalised nature of discriminatory abuse. Some recommendations for practice are identified, but more work is needed to develop the practice vocabulary and required skills.
Originality – This article brings together existing research on discriminatory abuse in order to argue that it is time to revive this understanding of abuse and develop safeguarding practice with adults who have protected characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-125
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adult Protection
Issue number2
Early online date2 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2022


  • Discrimination
  • Discriminatory Abuse
  • Hate Crime
  • Mate Crime
  • Safeguarding Adults
  • Adult Safeguarding
  • Structural Abuse

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