Older people may be at risk of domestic abuse not only from partners or ex partners, but also from immediate and extended family members, care workers and others who may be in a position to take advantage of the victim's circumstances, fear, restricted mobility and isolation.
Factors which may trigger additional vulnerability for older people:
- Abuse may be triggered or intensify as a result of events occurring later in life, such as retirement
- Ill-health of the victim (or perpetrator), whether physical or mental, may exacerbate pre-existing issues of power in control within relationships
- Abusive behaviour may be linked to 'care-giver' stress or anxiety – this is never an excuse for this behaviour.
Older people may experience additional barriers to seeking help. This may include strong cultural or generational views about preserving the sanctity of marriage and treating domestic abuse as a taboo subject.
Older people may also have limited options to report abuse committed against them, including limited access to the outside world, or time alone with carers and health professionals. Older people may be very afraid of what will happen to them, due to threats and abuses they have already experienced. They may feel reliant upon their perpetrator for personal care or mobility, health care or finance.
More information and guidance
- LGA: Adult safeguarding and domestic abuse: a guide to support practitioners and managers (Feb 2015)
- Skills for Care: Practice Briefing on implications of Care Act 2014
- Age UK: Safeguarding older people from abuse fact sheet
- Age UK: protecting yourself and others from abuse
- Help the Aged: The financial abuse of older people
- Women's Aid - Older Women's Toolkit
- Do you see her? Information page and short film by Women's Aid about older women's experience of domestic abuse
- Mind the gap - Improving intervention in Intimate Partner Violence Experienced by Older Women- Information guide for social support practitioners