Elder Abuse is defined in the UK as: “A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person”.
It is important that when we think of domestic abuse, we don’t forget that it can affect anyone of any age.
Abuse can occur in many different forms including:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
Abuse can occur anywhere:
- One’s own home
- Carer’s home
- Day care
- Residential care
- Nursing home
Both older men and women are at risk of being abused. The abuser is usually well known to the person being abused. They may be:
- A partner, child or relative
- A friend or neighbour
- A paid or volunteer care worker
- A health or social worker, or other professional
- Someone the older person cares for
Often, the people who abuse older people are exploiting a unique relationship. They are in a position of trust, whether through family bonds, friendship or through a paid caring role, and they exploit that trust.
This powerful video from Women’s Aid reminds us that domestic abuse happens to people of all ages.
An elderly person may be regarded as a “vulnerable adult” or “adult at risk”, and there are multi-agency policies and procedures for the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable adults. You can find details of these on your local authority’s Adult Safeguarding Board website.
Further reading and resources
- Spotlight report on older people and domestic abuse – SafeLives, 2016
- No Age Limit – Age UK, 2019
- Advice on prosecuting crimes against older people – CPS, 2019
- A National Framework of Standards for good practice and outcomes in adult protection work – Safeguarding Adults Network, 2005
- Guidance on multi-agency meetings regarding older people – SafeLives, 2018
- Rape of Older People in the UK: Challenging the “Real Rape” Stereotype – Hannah Bows, 2015
- Practitioner Views on the Impacts, Challenges, and Barriers in Supporting Older Survivors of Sexual Violence, Hannah Bows, 2017
- Domestic Homicide of Older People (2010–15): A Comparative Analysis of Intimate-Partner Homicide and Parricide Cases in the UK – Hannah Bows, 2018
Additional support guidance
We need your help to continue our work reducing the risk of domestic abuse. Find out more about how you can get involved!