Elder Abuse – Raising Awareness

World Elder Abuse Day – 15 June 2020

It’s a challenging time for older and vulnerable people living with domestic abuse.

The concerning rise in abuse because of lockdown has been widely reported in the media, but much of these reports have focused on the impact on women and children.

Ahead of World Elder Awareness Day on Monday, 15 June, the Isle of Wight Council is raising awareness to older adult victims of abuse who are also at significant risk during the pandemic.

Teresa Brimble-Brennan, the council’s domestic abuse project officer, said safety measures put in place to protect elderly from the virus may be placing them at a greater risk.

And she explained older people were often more reluctant to report abuse for a variety of reasons.

“Elder abuse is a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, causing harm or distress to an older person,” she said.

“It can take many forms such as financial, psychological, sexual, physical and domestic abuse with many victims suffering multiple forms.

“While domestic abuse in elderly bears some resemblance to the experience of younger victims, notable differences include being more likely to experience abuse from an adult family member or current intimate partner, having a disability and remaining in the home after getting support.

“Isolation, communication and the complex care needs of both the victim and perpetrator are some of the factors that prevent this being reported.

“This type of abuse may have gone on for years and there may be additional pressure to stay for fear of upsetting family dynamics and victims being less likely to identify their situation as abuse.”

Between April 2019 and March 2020, YouFirst, the Island’s domestic violence and abuse support provider, received 129 referrals for victims aged 65 and above — the oldest referral was for an 89 year old.  

Meanwhile, WightDASH, a women’s domestic abuse support group on the Island, said in both 2018 and 2019, 23 per cent of programme attendees were over 50, with six per cent over 70.

Councillor Gary Peace, Cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: “The Isle of Wight Council is doing everything it can to support our residents, particularly the most vulnerable, during this difficult time.

“As a former police officer, who worked on a specialist domestic violence unit for four years investigating hate crimes, I am acutely aware that domestic abuse can devastate lives and with people cooped up due to coronavirus this is a particular threat at the moment.

“We are working closely with our partners in the police, NHS, voluntary sector and community groups to address the dangers that those affected by domestic abuse are facing.”

Where to get help:

The Hampton Trust team are aware of the increased risks for victims who are isolated with perpetrators. If you wish to speak to someone directly regarding any assistance with perpetrators, dial 02380 009898 where a dedicated staff member will be available to take your call. Alternatively, call their front door services on 0800 234 6266 or via email: isva@hamptontrust.org.uk.

WightDash are working remotely and continuing to provide a service via telephone. The normal timetable for WOW has been temporarily suspended. Their landlines, (01983) 825981 and (01983) 300423), will be diverted out when the centre is not staffed so that messages can be left and will be responded to as soon as possible.

YouFirst has contingency plans in place to keep its services running throughout the crisis and welcome contact from anyone experiencing abuse who may need support. Call them on 0800 234 6266 or email: youfirstiow@theyoutrust.org.uk

For more information on the Island’s domestic abuse support services, visit www.iwight.com/domesticabuse