BACKGROUND Several studies on elder abuse indicate that a large number of victims are women, but others report that men in later life are also significantly abused, especially when they show symptoms of disability and poor health, and require help for their daily activities as a result. This study focused on the prevalence of different types of abuse experienced by men and on a comparison of male victims and non-victims concerning demographic/socio-economic characteristics, lifestyle/health variables, social support and quality of life. Additionally, the study identified factors associated with different types of abuse experienced by men and characteristics associated with the victims. METHODS The cross-sectional data concerning abuse in the past 12 months were collected by means of interviews and self-response during January-July 2009, from a sample of 4,467 not demented individuals aged between 60-84 years living in seven European countries (Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain and Sweden). We used a multilevel approach, within the framework of an Ecological Model, to explore the phenomenon of abuse against males as the complex result of factors from multiple levels: individual, relational, community and societal. RESULTS Multivariate analyses showed that older men educated to higher levels, blue-collar workers and men living in a rented accommodation were more often victims than those educated to lower levels, low-rank white-collar workers and home owners, respectively. In addition, high scores for factors such as somatic and anxiety symptoms seemed linked with an increased probability of being abused. Conversely, factors such as increased age, worries about daily expenses (financial strain) and greater social support seemed linked with a decreased probability of being abused. CONCLUSIONS Male elder abuse is under-recognized, under-detected and under-reported, mainly due to the vulnerability of older men and to social/cultural norms supporting traditional male characteristics of stoicism and strength. Further specific research on the topic is necessary in the light of the present findings. Such research should focus, in particular, on societal/community aspects, as well as individual and family ones, as allowed by the framework of the Ecological Model, which in turn could represent a useful method also for developing prevention strategies for elder abuse.