Older People

People experiencing domestic abuse in later life may have lived with an abusive partner for many years or be subject to abuse by family members or someone else with caring responsibilities for them.

Domestic abuse in later life can include:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial including abuse of powers of attorney
  • Neglect – e.g. withdrawing caring support, food, heating and medication
  • Psychological & Emotional
  • Coercive Control

Other aspects involve:

  • Isolation - denying access to external support including family/friends
  • Blaming the victim- “carer stress”
  • Threatening to/denying access to grandchildren
  • Questioning someone’s capacity

Barriers to seeking help/not reporting

  • Acceptance - ‘that’s how it’s always been’
  • Shame
  • Unwillingness to criminalise family members
  • Dependant on the abuser for care or for financial support
  • Prefer to live with the abuser than alone – attachment to family home
  • Lack of services for older people
  • Lack of or fluctuating capacity
  • Religion – marriage is for life
  • Cultural beliefs/family honour specifically for B&ME older people
  • Family members do not believe there is abuse
  • Disability
  • Fear of ‘what happens next?’

Data in the older age category is limited

Domestic abuse was categorised by the Office of National Statistics as something that happened to those between the ages 16 – 59 until its report released in March 2019, which identified victims-survivors between 16 – 74 years of age. We know that victims-survivors who are older have reported that they are experiencing domestic abuse.

  • People in later life are more likely to have health conditions or disabilities
  • Victims are less likely to attempt to leave their perpetrator
  • If the victim seeks support there are more likely to remain with their perpetrator afterwards
  • Increased risk of adult family abuse
  • Men are at increased risk of being victims of abuse
  • Professionals not recognising that there is domestic abuse and therefore colluding with the abuse

National Support

If you are worried about yourself or a family or friend you can make a referral to the Adult Safeguarding team in the local authority that they live in.