Today, we attended a national gathering on violence against elder women, hosted by Atira Women’s Resource Society. We talked about elder women and abuse, and how housing organizations and service providers can better service elder women. Senior’s and women’s organizations serving Metro Vancouver and housing organizations coming in from all across Canada shared their experiences and had a discussion to shape future plans.
Violence Against Elder Women
Violence against women is not limited to a specific age group. It affects women from all ages, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, religions, cultures, nationalities, and sexual orientations. Violence against women in later life can be perpetrated against someone healthy, ailing, or disabled. Perpetrator can be her partner, spouse, or companion, family relatives, formal and informal caregivers. Often the abuser is the primary caregiver, thus making the elder woman even more dependent on the abuser and isolated from others.
Older women get battered too.
- 2/3 of elder intimate partner violence, abuse and neglect victims are women
- More than half of all reported elder abuse and neglect is caused by family members
Here is the ways of elder women experience violence:
- Physical abuse by adult children, caretakers
- Spousal abuse
- Exploitation of house-hold labour, child care
- Withholding health care, medications, daily necessities
- Demeaning widowhood
- Coerced suicide pacts or mercy killings
For many older victims of gender-based violence, the abuse may have been going on for years. For others, the violence may have begun later in life. Lifestyle changes for the victim and the abuser may be factors that can bring about gender-based violence in later life. These changes can include retirement, aging, limited mobility, and illness.
Abused older women are less likely to be recognized as such.
- The media usually portrays violence against women as a younger woman’s problem.
- Friends, neighbors, and even health care providers and other professionals often assume that older women’s injuries and behavior are due simply to “old age,” when those symptoms are actually caused by abuse and neglect.
Economic abuse is the most common form of abuse that older women are likely to face. Due to the fact that older women typically live longer than older men, economic abuse of older women may have profound and long-term impacts on their quality of life.
National statistics on the extent of telephone fraud experienced by Canadians has been non- existent. However, unlike other classifications of crime, it has been recognized that older persons are particularly vulnerable to telemarketing fraud. According to PhoneBusters, Canada’s anti- fraud call centre, between 1996 and 2003, 84% of the total dollar loss through telemarketing prize and lottery occurrences was accounted for by victims over the age of 60.
Abused older women are less likely to seek help.
- Older women are more economically vulnerable than younger women, and they may fear poverty, homelessness, or loss of health care benefits if they report abusive behavior by a spouse or family member.
- If an older woman is frail or dependent on others to provide physical care, she may fear being placed in a nursing home.
- Even more than younger women, older women have been socialized to minimize their own identity, needs, and desires.
- Older women are less likely to seek social or psychological services because many of them were brought up to believe that such help is a sign of weakness and failure.
- Women abused by a spouse may not be willing to view separation or divorce as options because of stigma or an inability to envision life without a long-term spouse. They may believe that battering is an acceptable part of a relationship.
There are resources and support available for elder women experiencing abuse. Please call:
Outside Metro Vancouver Toll-free 1.877.687.1868
Within Metro Vancouver Phone 604.687.1867
Or email us at [email protected].
If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?