Domestic abuse and the over 65s
11 September 2014 by Charlotte Knappett
Many people would think that domestic abuse is something that only happens to people aged over 65 in a few isolated cases. However, new figures released by Essex Police suggest otherwise. These figures show that across Essex the number of reported cases of people over 65 suffering domestic abuse between 2009 and 2014 has more than doubled, from 85 to 177 per year. While these figures relate to Essex they highlight a national problem that needs urgent attention.
At the same time, the authorities have also been criticised for the way they handled a case in which an 81 year old woman died following a domestic abuse incident. The woman from Leigh-on-Sea had reported being abused by her husband, but no action was taken and she died in 2010 after suffering from a bleed on the brain.
Many experts believe that the prevalence of domestic abuse amongst the over 65s is higher than reported. Janet Dalrymple of Safer Places based in Essex stated that older victims tend to come forward less often. “I think it’s because of social conditioning, or when they were younger and they got married it was accepted that you made your bed and had to lie in it,” she said. “Statistics show only about 4% of older women report what’s happened to them to police.”
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has proposed guidelines to help the police spot domestic abuse in cases involving people aged over 65, but these are yet to be introduced. It is clear that the authorities, and other agencies helping victims of domestic abuse, need to work towards a better understanding of how people over 65 can be caught in an abusive relationship in order to be able to offer them protection and help.
Safer Places organised a conference in Chelmsford earlier this week to discuss how the needs of older domestic abuse victims can be met.
Domestic abuse affects men and women of all age groups. There are various charities and support agencies that are able to help. Their details can be found here.
Details about the options available to anybody suffering domestic abuse can be found here.