Women’s Aid in Larne marked World Elder Abuse Day with a tea dance at the Old Presbyterian Church of Larne and Kilwaughter on Monday June 16.
Around 30 dancers attended the event and £108 was raised.
The organisation’s groups in Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey are highlighting the fact that older people in our community also experience domestic violence.
Women’s Aid is the lead agency offering support and refuge services to women and children who have or are currently experiencing domestic violence. Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of social class, ethnicity, religion or age.
According to research, older people are less likely to ask strangers for help with personal or family problems. In addition, older women often have very different attitudes towards their roles as wives and mothers, and may have endured domestic violence over the years at a time when there was little or no help available. They may well have sought help in the past and found themselves shunned.
Other factors include illness, disability, economic dependence on a partner, perceived familial expectations (especially if they are carers), shame at having lived with abuse for so long, isolation and an unwillingness to leave the home they have spent a lifetime in during their later years.
Indeed, older women may assume that domestic violence is an issue for younger women and may not identify their experiences as being domestic violence. This may be particularly true if the nature of abuse has changed over the years, from physical violence to emotional abuse.
Floating Support Worker for the Larne area Aine McFadden said: “We know there are older victims of domestic violence in our community, the majority of whom are women.
“However the reality is that they are reluctant to come forward and seek support. In the past year, Women’s Aid in Larne has supported 212 women but only a small percentage of these were older women.
“We would like to see an increased number of older women coming forward and hope that anyone in need of support will feel able to make contact”.
Community Resettlement Worker for the area Fay Tilson added: “It is important to remember that domestic violence is not a one off incident but can happen anytime in our lives and builds up over a period of time, often years. The abuse is most commonly from a spouse or life partner, but for an older person the abuse can also be by another family member such as son or daughter.
“Abuse does not stop once we reach a certain age. One in four women will suffer domestic violence in their lifetime, be it physical, sexual, psychological, financial, emotional or neglect. Anyone living with abuse is not to blame for being abused, nor are they on their own – support from a range of agencies is available for them. Don’t suffer in silence.”
Women’s Aid provides information and support to those living with abuse, informing them of options available including housing, financial and legal entitlements, all with the aim for women to be able to make informed decisions. Support can be accessed locally by calling 07845445941 or 07906041136, via the 24 hour domestic violence helpline on 0808 802 1414 or by visiting www.womens-aid.org.uk