Older Women and Domestic Violence

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2015 National Women's Conference
14 October 2014
Carried as Amended

It is often assumed that domestic violence is mainly experienced by younger women, and that older women’s experiences can be put under the category of ‘elder abuse’ Older women may experience even more barriers to disclosure than younger women, and may therefore be more reluctant to report violence. As a result, despite women over the age of 45 making up 22% of the national population, they are known to be a group who under-report sexual and domestic violence and abuse. Indeed, statistics confirm that in Redcar and Cleveland, women aged 45+ make up 25% of the population, suggesting there is an even larger proportion of women who may be routinely experiencing domestic and sexual violence and be unable, or unwilling, to take steps to end the abuse – or simply not know what steps to take or who could support them.

Older women may experience more barriers to disclosure than younger women, and may therefore be more reluctant to report violence. These barriers include;

1) Leaving a lifetime home environment

2) Stigma and shame, fear of consequences such as financial insecurity

3) Older women may not see their experiences as relevant

4) Lack of understanding about what constitutes abuse

5) Physical frailty or disability

6) Older women’s experiences of violence may be historic and therefore they may have forgotten the incidents, or see them as no longer relevant

7) Isolation

8) Confusion, disassociation, prolonged trauma

9) Cultural issues

10) One consequence of repeated and prolonged violence is premature death, therefore older victims may underestimate lifetime experiences of abuse

Some facts and figures for you from 2012….

a) 1.2 million women suffered domestic abuse.

b) 400,000 women suffered sexual assault

c) 70,000 women were raped

d) One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute

e) On average, 2 women each week are killed by current or former male partner.

National Women’s Conference asks that National Women’s Committee carries out research to enable material to be produced that will help to encourage women to come forward earlier and to raise awareness of this issue nationally.