Older people and domestic abuse spotlight

Research, practical resources and insights on older people and domestic abuse – part of our 2016–2019 Spotlights series that shone a light on the hidden victims of domestic abuse.

On average, older victims experience abuse for twice as long before seeking help as those aged under 61. And nearly half have a disability. Yet older clients are hugely underrepresented among domestic abuse services. Our research found older victims are less likely to leave in the year before accessing help and are more likely to be living with the perpetrator after getting support.

In the first of our Spotlights series in October 2016, we focussed on the challenges facing professionals working with older people experiencing abuse. What can we do to reach older victims? How can we make sure they become – and stay – safe?

It was behind doors a lot, you know what I mean...in them days, years ago, there was nothing at all for us to turn to,

Older survivor of domestic abuse

About SafeLives’ Spotlights series

Our 2016–2019 Spotlights series shone a light on hidden victims of domestic abuse. We explored the experiences of victim groups who face additional barriers to accessing support, and can feel ‘hidden’ from services. Discover insight from survivors, practitioners, academics and other experts, alongside our own research and data.

For too long domestic abuse in later life has been a hidden issue, with hidden victims. It can be extremely hard for older people to speak out about it and many services simply have not yet recognised that domestic abuse affects people of all ages.

The impact of abuse on older people is profound and damaging, whatever form it takes and whoever is responsible for it. Every older person should be able to live life free from abuse and this report is an important step forward because it brings a neglected and taboo issue into the light. Age UK welcomes and supports the work of SafeLives and thanks them for highlighting the stories and experiences of older people.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK

Key findings

  • Key findings

    of victims aged 61+ experience abuse from an adult family member

    compared to just 6% of those aged 60 or under

  • Key findings

    of victims aged 61+ experience abuse from a current intimate partner

    compared to 28% of those aged 60 or under

  • Key findings

    of victims aged 61+ have a disability

    and for a third (34%) this is physical

Safe Later Lives

Read the findings and policy and practice recommendations in our Safe Later Lives report.

Read the report

Resources and guidance

Blogs, webinars and podcast episodes

Play video

Older, safe – is it too much to ask?

Jo Silver, SafeLives’ Director of Practice, shares key points from work designed to highlight how older people can be missed by services. How might a different approach increase the safety and identification of older victims?

Play video

Findings from the national Marac scrutiny panel: working with older people

Steve Bartley, Safeguarding and Access to Justice Programme Lead for the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, joins SafeLives’ Lucy Giles to discuss how Maracs can best support older victims of abuse.

Listen: How can services reach more older victims?

Listen: What happens when the victim and abuser are 'co-dependent'?

Listen: Are attitudes changing?

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