Older women who are being abused may have experienced patterns of violence throughout their lives from partners and/or family members, with specific issues for survivors including:
Shelters can make facilities and services more welcoming and suitable for older women by developing guidelines that assist shelter staff to effectively support older women. Such guidelines should be informed by the perspectives of older women within the context of the relevant culture and traditions of their generation. This is important in addressing resistance to recognizing the level and extent of abuse of older women, a result of ageism in many societies, which contributes to older women's silence about their abuse.
Practices to improve services for older women include (based on Hightower, et al., 2006. Working with Older Abused Women: Guidelines and Resource):
Example: Transitional Housing for Elders (United States)
The Elder Transitional Housing and Outreach Initiative in Maine (United States) is collaboration between domestic and sexual violence agencies and the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine, with support from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. Since 2009, the agencies provide transitional housing and supportive services to survivors over 60 who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking are need of transitional housing. The programme includes a 3-bedroom shared residence for survivors, with one bedroom designed for wheelchair accessibility. The house is not staffed, but is in a confidential location and available for survivors to stay for up to two years. Complementing the safe home, domestic violence agencies provide community-based outreach supports, including: housing assistance, case management, counseling, job placement assistance, referrals to health-related services, financial assistance for securing housing (e.g. security deposit), resources to access transportation, legal and court advocacy, support and safety planning, and emergency shelter.
Source: Elder Abuse Institute of Maine. The Elder Transitional Housing Initiative.
Interactive Training Exercises on Abuse in Later Life (Bonnie Brandl and Deb Spangler for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2004). This manual is for experienced facilitators working with professionals in the fields of domestic violence and sexual assault, elder abuse/adult protective services, aging, health care, justice and others. The manual provides guidance for 16 exercises focusing on several key training points, such as the dynamics of elder abuse, barriers to help-seeking, power and discrimination, service delivery, and safety planning. A list of relevant resource materials and related links are provided to facilitate development of a training programme. Available in English.
Working with Older Abused Women: Guidelines and Resource (Hightower, et al., 2006). Available in English.