102262: Organised Abuse in Adulthood: Towards a Cooperative Interagency Response

About the Course:

This session will present the findings of an Australian interview study with women disclosing organised abuse in adulthood and the mental health professionals who support them. Organised abuse refers to the sexual abuse of multiple children by multiple perpetrators acting in a coordinated way, and is reported by a significant minority of clients in dissociative disorder clinics. It is not unusual for adults disclosing organised abuse to indicate that abuse continued into adulthood, and may be ongoing at the time of treatment. This seminar draws from the experiences of professionals and clients in their efforts to understand, manage and end organised abuse in adulthood. Eschewing simple dichotomies of ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ abuse, the paper acknowledges that dissociative symptoms and traumatic attachments can be manipulated by perpetrators to coerce vulnerable people into organised abuse. The reflections of survivors and professionals suggest that the cooperation of multiple agencies can support the physical and psychological safety of the survivor (and their children), enhancing the efficacy of therapeutic work. However a lack of shared understanding and training amongst responding professionals and services can result in the premature dismissal of reports of adult organised abuse, the stigmatisation of victims, and retraumatising or potentially harmful interventions. The paper concludes with some thoughts on the implications of adult organised abuse for practice and policy.



Publication Date:

October 6th, 2017


Dr Michael Salter (presenter)

About the Author:

Dr Michael Salter is a senior lecturer in criminology at the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, where he leads the ‘Violence and Power in Context’ strand of the Sexualities and Genders Research Group. He researches violence against women and children with a focus on complex abuse, including organised abuse and technologically-facilitated abuse. His new book Crime Justice and Social Media was published this year by Routledge.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially psychologists, counselors and social workers who seek knowledge about organized abuse in adulthood. It is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Recognise the dynamics of organised abuse in adulthood

  2. Describe barriers to cooperative interagency responses to adult organised abuse

  3. Identify useful strategies and opportunities to improve outcomes for adults experiencing organised abuse

Exam Questions

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