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Domestic Abuse and Older People

21 July 2023

older couple domestic

Anyone can experience domestic abuse, regardless of age, but there are some groups where abuse is underreported. Work is being done by partner agencies across the county to ensure that specialist support is available and accessible to everyone regardless of their age and where they live.

This is part of a countywide commitment to make services more visible for those that are considered to be hidden victims of domestic abuse.

Hidden Harms Animation

In partnership with Dewis Choice, Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board have produced a new animation, “Hidden Harms”, to highlight the unique challenges that older adults face when domestic abuse occurs.

The aim of the short animation is to be a tool to help support practitioners and families start a conversation with an older adult.

The animation is part of a wider partnership-led campaign that aims to increase visibility of domestic abuse in the older generation, encouraging family members and professionals to start conversations with them.

The aim is to make domestic abuse a topic that is part of a safe and routine enquiry about that person’s wellbeing. By doing this, earlier intervention is encouraged, allowing someone to access support at an earlier stage and potentially reducing their risk of serious harm.

An Under-reported Issue

Domestic abuse is largely under-reported in the over 65 age group for a variety of reasons.

This could be because of different attitudes towards marriage and relationships, as well as societal changes that have happened over the years. For instance, this age group could be part of a generation where men went to work and women stayed at home and were dependent on their husband for many things, including money.

Nowadays, we would recognise determining whether your partner works, or controlling their access to money as coercive control. There are also many reasons why an older person may not come forward for support, including:

  • Fears of not being believed.
  • Not realising that it is domestic abuse.
  • Caring responsibilities for that person.
  • Response from family members and friends.

Whilst that is not an exhaustive list, there are many reasons why this age group may not come forward for support and why it is important to break down barriers.

It is positive that work is being done to bring domestic abuse into the open, particularly in under-reported groups, and we will continue to work alongside partner agencies to raise awareness.