Age UK reveals that over 80,000 more older people aged 60 to 74 have suffered from domestic abuse since November 2019

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone at any age, with women, particularly at risk. It is devastating and life-threatening. Social distancing measures during the current crisis mean women are at even greater risk - trapped at home with abusers at a time when coercive, controlling, and violent behaviours are escalating.

In many ways, the impact of living with domestic abuse is the same for all victims – regardless of age. Everyone worries about not being believed or having to live with the stigma of abuse. They worry about what will happen to them financially if the abuse will get worse or what might happen to the perpetrator if they do speak out.  

Domestic abuse in later life has been a hidden issue, with hidden victims. It can be extremely hard for older people to reach out for help, to talk to someone about what they are suffering, and many services simply have not yet recognised that domestic abuse affects people of all ages.

In many ways, the impact of living with domestic abuse is the same for all victims – regardless of age. Everyone worries about not being believed or having to live with the stigma of abuse. They worry about what will happen to them financially if the abuse will get worse or what might happen to the perpetrator if they do speak out.  

There is help and support out there please reach out to those that can help. Age Concern and The Next Chapter can support you through -you are not alone!

Every older person should be able to live life free from abuse.

Case Study

Grace is 81.

She has endured 57 years of physical and sexual abuse and financial and emotional coercive control by her husband, George.

"When I was 22 I met George. He was handsome and charming. He showered me with compliments and made me feel wonderful. We had a small wedding and went on to have three children. Although I enjoyed my job I was thrilled to be at home. I never returned to nursing. George provided for us financially. However, he controlled every penny and decided what I wore and how I arranged my hair. I lost contact with my friends from work, but he allowed me to chat with the other mothers at the school gates. George liked routine: evening meal at 5pm, children in bed by 7pm. He had high expectations of what a wife should be and there was no discussion about what I may or may not want.

George would go to the races once a week, he would return smelling of whiskey. If he’d won at the races we’d dance, and he’d treat me to a bottle of port. If he’d lost, he’d treat me to a beating. The bruises carefully administered to areas on my body that wouldn’t be seen. When the children left home, George allowed me to have a part-time job. I started to gain confidence and spoke to a friend at work. She helped me realise this wasn’t like all marriages, as I’d been told by George. I could stand up to George and say no to his demands. I began putting money aside for a rainy day. George noticed the change in me and began treating me differently - paying me compliments and taking me out for meals.

His memory has started to fail now. He gets frustrated and angry. Thankfully, problems with his hip mean he can’t manage the stairs anymore, so he sleeps downstairs and allows me to sleep upstairs. Night-time is my favourite part of the day. I can rest knowing he can’t get to me and I feel safe for the first time in years. I lie in bed and my thoughts are completely my own. And here we are - 57 years of marriage. “Congratulations, what an achievement!” people say."

If only they knew.

We should not make assumptions that people experiencing abuse who have in a relationship for decades have ‘chosen’ to stay. For Grace, leaving is unlikely to have ever been an option.

We must provide a range of opportunities for people to speak out and understand the impact domestic abuse and controlling behaviour can have on decision making.

We must be there to notice and support  elderly people going through domestic abuse.