Domestic abuse in later life is a tragedy that affects older adults of all backgrounds. It can take many forms including physical, sexual, psychological, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation. Abusers often use power and control to get what they want in the relationship and the victim is not seen as an equal. Older adults often experience shame, pain, economic loss, spiritual anguish, physical anguish, institutionalization, and poor quality of life. Abusers can be anyone, often someone the victim knows such as a spouse, partner, adult child, or caregiver. It’s important to know that older adults may be subjected to sexual violence as well, which is an act that violates a person’s trust and safety, and is sexual in nature. This includes date/acquaintance rape, partner rape, caregiver sexual assault/abuse, stranger rape, incest, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.
People with disabilities are also vulnerable to domestic violence and may experience additional types of abuse such as being handled roughly during a transfer, having to have sex in return for help, threatening institutionalization, threatening abandonment, withholding food and medicine, putting needed equipment out of reach, and isolating.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or sexual violence, it’s important to reach out for help. The Women and Children’s Horizons provides support and resources for victims of domestic and sexual violence. They have a support group for women in mid-life or women with disabilities and an Abuse in Later Life program. They can be reached by calling Beverly Sorensen at 262-656-3500.