Organisational Abuse – Staying Safe

Organisational abuse is a type of abuse that can occur in both the private and public sectors. It is defined as the misuse of your power or position within an organisation for personal gain or interest. This can include financial, sexual, or emotional abuse. Organisational abuse can have a devastating effect on individuals, and it is important to know how to stay safe if you are experiencing it. In this blog post, we will explore organisational abuse in more detail.  

What is Organisational Abuse?

Organisational abuse is a term used to describe the mistreatment of adults or children in a particular setting. This can include anything from harassment and bullying to discrimination and unfair treatment. The effects of organisational abuse can be huge. It often leads to feelings of isolation, stress, and even depression. In some cases, it can even lead to suicide.

The term organisational abuse is a catch-all phrase. It is not limited to a particular sector or setting. It can happen in workplaces, hospitals, care centres, educational sectors, religious organisations, prisons, etc. However, organisational abuse in care homes is quite common. Also, it can happen to anyone, including workers or staff and the general public.

Organisational abuse can happen due to many reasons:

  • Inadequately trained staff
  • Lack of support from management
  • Inflexible routines
  • Poor working practices
  • Lack of interest of staff or employees
  • Poor communication
  • Poor implementation of rules and regulations
  • Systemically weak organisation
  • An unequal balance within the organisation that causes a service gap

Sometimes organisations may not be aware that they are abusing people. This might be because the staff or management are used to doing things a certain way, and it is just their normal working ethos.

If you want to audit your business and build a good ethos around it, contact

What is an Example of Organisational Abuse?

The following are examples of organisational abuse. This section also covers examples of institutional abuse. 

  • Bullying or harassment of employees by managers or colleagues.
  • Discrimination practices against employees include unfair hiring, promotions, or pay decisions.
  • Improper use of power or authority within the organisation, for example, using one’s position to gain sexual favours.
  • Finance-related abuses, such as embezzlement or misuse of company funds.
  • Neglecting the health and safety of employees or staff.
  • Refusing to comply with legal obligations, such as failing to provide minimum wage payments or providing hazardous working conditions.
  • Exploiting employees by expecting excessive work hours or work that is beyond their abilities.  
  • Disrespecting or not supporting someone else’s right to be independent.
  • No person-centric care planning.
  • Discriminatory abuse – unfair treatment relating to gender, disability, religion, race, and age.
  • Inappropriate restrictions or imprisonment.
  • Lack of choices in food and clothing.
  • Unnecessary involvement in the finances of individuals.
  • Very limited recreational and educational activities.
  • Inappropriate use of medicine.
  • Shouting and/or violence.
  • Forced ingestion. 

What are Indicators of Organisational Abuse?

Some organisations have an inflexible schedule that does not accommodate a proper bedtime, mealtime, bathing, or toilet use. Additionally, some managers force working mothers with kids to eat food against their will, while some people are not allowed to take a break and grab a bite to eat or quench their thirst. Another form of abuse occurs when organisations hire limited staff to meet extensive business demands.

This leads to overcrowded rooms with limited ventilation. Meanwhile, some corporations deliberately insert a lack of privacy in their workplace

  • Lack of privacy and/or choices.
  • Physical indicators such as cuts and bruises.  
  • Not allowing visitors to meet their friends or family members.
  • A person or specific group of people makes all the important decisions without input from other people.
  • Keeping people from talking to their family or friends on the phone.  

What is the Difference Between Organisational and Institutional Abuse?

The terms ‘organisational’ and ‘institutional’ abuse are often used interchangeably. However, there are a few key distinctions between organisational and institutional abuse.

Organisational abuse is generally perpetrated by those in positions of power or trust within an organisation, such as a corporation, government, or charitable institution. In contrast, institutional abuse occurs in an institution, such as a prison, nursing home, mental hospital, or children’s home. The latter generally refers to the misuse or mistreatment of people dependent on others to meet their basic needs because of their age, disability, illness, or poverty.

Another key difference is that abuse is often hidden or concealed from public view, whereas institutional abuse tends to be more visible. This may be because there are more opportunities for institutional abuse to occur, and the recipients of the abuse are often more powerless against it.

Finally, organisational abuse is often motivated by financial gain or self-interest, while institutional abuse is more likely to be driven by power and control. This means that victims of institutional abuse are more likely to be subjected to sustained and systematic abuse rather than experiencing a one-off incident.

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