Domestic violence does not discriminate, including by age. Older individuals can become victims of domestic violence just as easily as others. You may find yourself as a victim of intimate partner abuse by a spouse, partner or companion. Or the abuse may occur at the hands of a child or sibling. Regardless of who your abuser is, the result can be frightening and isolating.
For older victims, abuse can pose a variety of different challenges. Some older people must rely on their abusers for significant support. Activities like driving to doctor’s appointments or getting medications or groceries may require the assistance of your abuser. You may also rely on your abuser for managing your finances. These activities can all be used as another tool to intimidate or manipulate you and maintain power and control.
If you are an older victim of intimate partner abuse, you feel especially vulnerable. The prospect of leaving and starting over seems out of the question, especially after a marriage of several decades. The cumulative effect of years of abuse has likely taken a toll on your health, increasing your reliance on the abuser. Years of being socially isolated by your abuser may have left you feeling like there is nowhere to turn, no one who can understand or help.
While you may have many of the same fears as other victims and face many of the same stigmas, as an older victim of abuse you may also contend with unique challenges and concerns such as:
- Impact of physical frailty and cognitive impairments, such as dementia
- Loss of independence
- Being put into a nursing facility
- Lack of financial resources
- Responsibility to love or care for your abuser
- Loss of health insurance or benefits
If you believe you are a victim of abuse, please contact your local domestic violence agency by calling the statewide, toll-free domestic violence hotline at (888) 774-2900.
Advocates at CCADV member programs understand the challenges and complexities facing older victims of abuse. They are available to provide support but also connections to local resources that might decrease reliance on your abuser. They will use their expertise to support you and strengthen the safety net available to older victims of domestic violence.
The Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services, our member program in the New Haven and Valley areas, also runs the CHERISH Program. CHERISH is an innovative virtual safe house program designed to provide an array of supportive services to those 60 years of age and older.
CHERISH offers counseling and support groups, and facilitates access to resources that include medical assistance, housing and financial options. Learn more about this program.
Area Agencies on Aging: Agencies on Aging are private, nonprofit corporations that provide leadership and resources to meet the needs of the rapidly growing elderly population.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Center on Elder Abuse: NCEA provides resources to policy makers, social service and healthcare practitioners, the justice system, researchers, advocates and families.