Domestic and family violence can happen to women of all ages including older women. Some older women may have experienced the abuse for many years, while for others, it could be occurring for the first time.
Since many older women were born in a time when family matters were considered private and were not discussed openly, many older women may be reluctant to talk about their experiences or may consider the abusive behaviour acceptable. In the past, there were very few supports available for women, so many older women are likely to be unaware of the services they can access.
Some of the unique barriers faced by older women include:
- Feeling uncomfortable disclosing details of the abuse to others;
- Lack of awareness about services available or how to access them;
- Reluctance to leave their home, community and support network of many years;
- Some women may care for elderly relatives, dependent children or grandchildren which makes seeking help difficult and the prospect of moving very daunting;
- Older women may be financially dependent on their abusers and have no independent form of income which may discourage women from leaving;
- Some adult children may encourage their mothers to stay in the relationship or even blame their mother for the abuse.