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domestic violence elderly

When Abuse Tarnishes The Golden Years

Abuse doesn’t discriminate against age — and an unsettling number of older Americans are in abusive relationships that either begin in or persist into later life.

No one deserves abuse, and no matter what your situation, there are ways to find help. It is never too late to report the violence and talk to someone about it.

Why Now?

Abuse can begin later in life or start earlier and continue into later years. There are many causes for late onset domestic violence, including stresses resulting from retirement, disability, shifting roles for family members and sexual changes. Older men and women are also more likely to experience domestic violence at this age if they enter a new relationship later in life.

What Does This Look Like?

In addition to the known symptoms of domestic abuse, frequent and more severe injuries, confusion and disassociation are characteristics of late onset domestic violence. Social workers, police and medical professionals find these elderly-specific indicators to be difficult to diagnose because they often occur in one form or another without the presence of domestic abuse.

Why Is It Underreported?

There are lots of reasons people don’t report abuse in their later years of life. Retirement and disability often render elderly individuals financially unstable and they may fear losing health care benefits or falling into poverty or homelessness. If they do rely on their partner for caretaking and support they may have fewer options after leaving.

Because of generational norms, some older women feel that speaking out about domestic violence would be “airing dirty laundry,” and prefer to keep their personal lives private. In addition, many individuals are anxious about leaving a partner late in life with the concern that they may spend the rest of their days alone.

How Can You Help Someone You Know?

Many domestic violence campaigns and services don’t address late onset domestic violence and instead focus mainly on people between 18 and 45 years old. This limits the availability of assistance older people. Fortunately, specific resources do exist. Adult Protective Services (APS) in all states serve abused older victims.

Do you know someone who may be experiencing abuse at the hand of their partner? Since there are unique reasons many older Americans don’t report abuse, speaking up if you notice red flags could be the support someone needs to begin to get help.

It’s never too late to reclaim your life, and we want to help. Call NDVH at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to chat with an advocate about the abuse — whether it’s happening to you personally, or to someone you know.

Further Resources

crime victims rights

It’s National Crime Victim’s Rights Week

“A right is not what someone gives you; it’s what no one can take from you.” — Ramsey Clark


Each year 18.7 million Americans are directly harmed by crime — and this statistic doesn’t include the countless number of family, friends and co-workers who are also impacted by these tragedies.

Yesterday marked the beginning of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (April 21-27). Since 1981, the Office for Victims of Crime has dedicated this week to promoting victims’ rights and honoring both victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This year’s theme is “New Challenges. New Solutions” which focuses on OVC’s initiative, “Transforming Victim Services.”

As a national organization committed to ending domestic violence, this is a crucial week for us to reflect upon and think about victims of these and other crimes. Each day we advocate for victim’s rights, and there has been great progress made. It was only last month that we saw the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, with new provisions extending the protection of Native American women and members of the LGBT community.

Still, it only takes a quick look around us — in the media, at our congressional hearings, in everyday dialogue — to see that challenges remain. According to OVC, about 50% of violent crimes are not reported, and only a fraction of victims receive the help they need. Domestic violence remains one of the most underreported crimes, for various reasons. Every day we speak to victims who are in fear of being deported, losing custody of their children, becoming financially unstable, or not being believed. Victims’ rights are not all equal, and often go unenforced or ignored.

As demonstrated through this national week of recognition each year, conversation and collaboration is necessary for further change.

Domestic Violence Is a Crime

In 2010, violent crimes by intimate partners totaled 509,230 — 13% of all violent crimes. Of female murder victims in 2010, 38% were killed by a husband or boyfriend. Sixty four percent of female victims experienced violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Learn More

If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence, call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to confidentially speak with an advocate. We can provide you with info on safety planning and next steps, as well as give you resources for learning more about victim rights.

To get more involved, check out the National Calendar of Crime Victim Assistance-Related Events to see if there is anything you can attend in your area, or organize your own event. For more information about victims of assault, domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, sexual assault and other crimes, download the Help Series brochures.

Learn more about the history of victim’s rights (Section 5).

Follow the hashtag #NCVRW2013 on Twitter throughout the week to learn more.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

What You Can Do Series Addresses Domestic Violence

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Katie Ray-Jones, Operations Director for the National Domestic Violence Hotline recently participated in an online interview with On the Leesh Productions for their What You Can Do Series. The Series hopes to prove that our greatest issues are solvable one minute at a time. The interview focused on many interesting issues related to domestic violence including misunderstandings about domestic violence, unreported cases and statistics.  Please click here to read the whole interview. They also have created a really informative and thought provoking PSA about domestic violence, based on the one minute concept. Statistics used in the video were provided by The Hotline. Please click here to view the PSA.

On the Leesh Productions is a New York City based company devoted to the production of innovative, energetic and challenging film, theater, webseries and instructional video.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Lost Faith, Abused, Raped and Hopeless…

The following blog entry was written by survivor Ren R. Royal, author of Lost Faith to Living Faith. Click here for more information on the book or to purchase a copy.

There were many times when I suffered from the corrupt evils that exist in the world. I am a victim of rape, abuse and violence.

For several years I was without a car and had to walk everywhere through all kinds of weather. At that time, there was no bus transportation where I lived. I lived in a very bad part of town. I had to walk to the laundromat a couple miles to do the laundry. I disliked going to the laundromat; clothes seemed to always get stolen the minute you turned around. As I walked to the laundromat one day, a car drove by. Several men with weapons, knives, and a gun got out of the car and raped me, beat me, put me in the trunk of a car, and then threw me in a ditch to die.

During such horrific times, it is difficult to feel God’s prevailing love. It is difficult to call out to God or cling to God’s Word. My heart did not feel God’s presence or help during the time of attack. The power of sin had its hold over me. I needed human embrace, comfort, and a shoulder to cry on. I suffered alone and became lost in my own pain.

This is just one story out of the five times I have been raped and/or brutally beaten. These traumatic violations tore at me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Life on Earth became unbearable. I wanted to die and be with God in heaven where there was no more pain. I wanted the pain to end. My only peace came through prayers of death to God.

I was ignorant and did not know shelters even existed at the time; however, at the time I felt so hopeless and in such pain that I did not care anyway.

Unfortunately statistics are high in rape, violence, and abuse, and most go unreported. One sexual assault occurs every 127 seconds, or about one every two minutes. Sexual assault is the most under reported crime, with 60 percent still being left unreported. Fifteen out of 16 attackers walk free.

My tears of pain have fallen for years, unseen tears left hidden in the darkness.  At the time, I had no friends or support, no shoulder to cry on, no person to call, and no hug or smile to hold on to.

I later discovered that no matter how great our pain is, God’s love is even greater. And then I wrote a book about it – Lost Faith to Living Faith by Ren R. Royal.