Domestic Violence & Elder Abuse
Domestic violence is a problem that occurs in any community and can affect anyone – including older adults – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. Nationwide, domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 calls on a typical day, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
Domestic violence is not always obvious
Domestic violence is perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner and may be physical, sexual or emotional/psychological. Domestic violence involves behavior meant to control, scare or harm. It may include physical violence such as hitting, kicking and shoving, or emotional/ psychological abuse which includes threats, verbal abuse, accusations and social isolation. It may be in the form of coercion (including sexual coercion) and stalking or cyber stalking. Many different tactics may be used. For example, a perpetrator may use technology to harass, monitor and track a current or former partner.
The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary and in many instances, the signs can be difficult to recognize. Since domestic violence often occurs in the home, being confined at home with an abusive partner (such as during the COVID-19 global pandemic) is a significant threat for victims of domestic violence. For comprehensive information about the warning signs of domestic violence, visit the NCADV’s website at www.ncadv.org.
Protective services for older adults
Old Colony Elder Services (OCES), a non-profit agency designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has a Protective Services Program team that works with older adults or their designees to prevent, eliminate or remedy situations involving emotional, physical or sexual abuse, neglect by a caregiver, financial exploitation and/or self–neglect.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the number of older Americans (age 60+) who have experienced abuse are approximately one in 10. Common risk factors of elder abuse include social isolation, poor physical health and dementia. Older adults who are at risk of harm from others (or from themselves) due to safety concerns, can receive assistance to keep them safe in their own homes. OCES’ staff can advocate for older adults in these situations and provide services and resources to resolve these difficult matters.
In an ongoing effort to raise awareness of elder abuse, OCES holds annual “March Against Elder Abuse” community events in Brockton and Plymouth for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) in June. This year, WEAAD’s theme is “Lifting Up Voices” and information will be announced in the near future about how OCES will recognize this with the community.
Abusive behavior should never be tolerated or accepted. Recognizing the warning signs is key in preventing or stopping domestic violence and elder abuse. If you are, or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY), or visit www.thehotline.org.
If you have a Protective Services concern, call 1-800-922-2275 or visit www.ocesma.org for more information.