Older But No Safer – It’s Never Too Late to Seek Help

Women’s Aid ABCLN is calling for greater protection for older women living with domestic abuse during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Older women are extremely isolated at this time, We know that older women are less likely to speak out about domestic abuse. We must break down the barriers to isolation for those at risk, and reach out to older women.”

Women’s Aid ABLCN CEO Rosemary Magill says “Isolation is a key tool used by perpetrators to control women, and for many older women experiencing domestic abuse being isolated from family and friends can be a core factor of their married life, spanning up to 50 years and beyond.”

Women’s Aid ABCLN Older But No Safer project aims to raise awareness of the issues faced by older women affected by domestic abuse. Research shows that older women are not represented in domestic abuse services.  It is largely a hidden issue for older women, under-recorded and under-researched.

Rosemary says “We must dispel the myth that domestic abuse does not affect older women. PSNI figures for 17/18 state that of all female victims of domestic abuse, older women represented 8.25% of the total. Older women tell us that they may be older but they are no safer, but it is never too late to seek help.”

“Long term abuse, carried out over decades, may begin with physical violence and in later years present as psychological abuse, making it difficult for agencies to identify the abuse. While abuse affecting older women is not a new phenomenon, policy and practice responses are limited.”

“Older women affected by domestic abuse have particular needs, needs caused by the vulnerabilities which come with increasing age. While there are commonalities between the experiences of younger and older victims, older victims’ experiences are often exacerbated by social, cultural and physical factors that require a tailored response.”

“Misidentifying domestic violence as ‘elder abuse’ rather than ‘violence against women’ results in older women not getting the services and interventions they need to be safe. An increased understanding and awareness of domestic violence can provide much needed protection for older women.”

“Unfortunately, some victims have been living with abuse for decades – in silence and invisible experiencing violence, sexual abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, physical and mental health problems, financial control and isolation. And it is this isolation that is the greatest risk just now.”

“In all of our work we listen to and are guided by what older women tell us. We know that older women are less likely to leave their abusers than younger women for many reasons, and research identifies that they face a range of additional barriers to access safety and support.”

“It is important that older women are able to understand and recognise that they are experiencing domestic abuse in whatever form. We want older women to know that Women’s Aid ABCLN is here for them and that help is available.”

Rosemary says “Everyone has the right to be safe at home, and it is never too late to change your situation.”

If you are affected by domestic abuse you can call Women’s Aid ABCLN on 028 25 632136 or go to womens-aid.org.uk.