In a telephone survey of nearly 6,000 elderly individuals, victims of elder physical mistreatment reported that 57 percent of perpetrators of physical abuse were partners or spouses.1 Another study using self-reported information from elders found that spouses/partners and adult children were responsible for 40 percent of elder mistreatment experienced overall. 2 Spouses/partners were described as the most common perpetrators of emotional abuse and physical abuse. Adult children and other relatives were also described as the most common perpetrators of physical abuse (including sexual abuse).2 The bottom line is that elder abuse is a family violence issue.
Recognizing that power and control dynamics exist in some elder abuse situations (even when the abuser is not a spouse or partner) helps frame approaches to addressing violence in later life. Services for domestic violence survivors include crisis intervention, safety planning, advocacy, legal assistance, peer counseling, emergency shelter, cell phone loans, and information for immigrants. Multi-disciplinary approaches that unite Adult Protective Services, the domestic violence/sexual assault communities, law enforcement, prosecutors and health care professionals provide the greatest chance for success in these cases.
Selection of NCEA publications:
Learn about services related to Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Violence Against Women, and Sexual Assault
- National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life Through advocacy and education, the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) works every day to improve victim safety, increase abuser accountability, expand coordinated community response, and ultimately, put an end to abuse in later life.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) When a caller dials 1.800.656.HOPE, a computer notes the area code and first three digits of the caller's phone number. The call is then instantaneously connected to the nearest RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) member center.
- Office for Victims of Crime features a National Resource Directory to help locate nonemergency crime victim services.
- Office on Violence Against Women, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Find local resources and learn about OVW-funded programs.
1Acierno R, Hernandez MA, Amstadter AB, Resnick HS, Steve K, Muzzy W, et al. (2010). Prevalence and correlates of emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse and potential neglect in the United States: The national elder mistreatment study. American Journal of Public, 100(2), 292-297.
2Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University & New York City Department for the Aging. (2011) Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. New York: Author.