The literature is reviewed: (a) comparing models of abuse and protection applied at each stage of the lifespan; and (b) exploring abuse and protection issues with respect to individuals over time. A paucity of comparative and lifespan work in the field of abuse and protection is reported. Within the available literature, different types of knowledge are drawn upon and contrasted definitions of ‘abuse’ and ‘protection’ employed. Accordingly, the most significant findings of the review are in the dissonances and the gaps surrounding the substantive findings. Examples are presented to demonstrate this, while new directions for discussion and research are proposed.