Lisa Conway – Hometown News
Q: Does domestic violence look different among seniors?
A: Domestic violence occurs among seniors of all backgrounds. Domestic violence in later life occurs when a person uses power or control to inflict physical, sexual, emotional or financial harm to an older person with whom they have an ongoing relationship — both female and male. Typically, abusers will use tactics such as isolation, intimidation, threats, manipulation and physical harm to gain and maintain control over their victims. Abusers may dictate where the victim can go, how they spend their money and even who they can see.
According to the National Sheriff’s Association, the larger elder abuse problem is characterized by many of the same behaviors. The key distinguishing factor for domestic abuse is that the abuser is typically a partner or spouse.
Older victims of domestic violence can face unique obstacles. Services to aid domestic abuse victims are generally not designed to meet the needs of seniors, who may be isolated by their abuser.
Ending a relationship with an abuser can be more difficult for seniors. Older adults are often uncomfortable talking about personal and private matters with strangers. Some victims opt to stay for religious, cultural or financial reasons. Many don’t want the relationship to end, just the abuse. Others have given up hope.
What can we do to help the victim? First, take time to truly listen. Respect their values and choices, whether you agree with them or not. Seek solutions to end their isolation, let the victim know that help is available and provide what assistance you can.
If you are in danger from domestic abuse and need law enforcement to respond, call 911. To talk to someone confidentially for support and information, call the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119. They can point you to resources for creating a safety plan, obtaining legal assistance, emergency shelters, crisis intervention and more. Because you deserve better.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com. Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.