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Identifying and responding to domestic abuse in the older population: Key challenges and complexities.

Lonbay, Sarah and Southall, C. (2022) Identifying and responding to domestic abuse in the older population: Key challenges and complexities. In: European Conference for Social Work Research (2023), 12-14 April, 2023, Milan, Italy.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Domestic abuse is a key concern for many older people and yet is an issue that has historically been ‘hidden’ and consequently neglected in terms of policy, practice, and research. The World Health Organisation (WHO) (WHO, 2017), refers to ‘intimate partner violence’ as ‘behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours’, but older people have been excluded from much of the discussion around domestic abuse, leading to a false assumption that this is not an issue that they experience. However, there is evidence that the prevalence of domestic abuse in the older population is high (Age UK, 2019; Bonomi et al., 2007; Fang et al., 2019; Stockl et al., 2012; Zinc et al., 2005).
The aim of this research was to develop knowledge and understanding of how key agencies identify and respond to domestic abuse in the older population. A qualitative study, utilising semi structured interviews with eight staff members from statutory and voluntary sector agencies, as well as two older women who had experienced domestic abuse, was undertaken. Findings show that the recognition of domestic abuse in later life is limited, although participants suggested that it was more readily identified now than previously. The complexities of abuse in older age can impact on whether abuse is identified and categorised as domestic abuse and it was suggested that age discrimination also impacts on this recognition. Where domestic abuse is identified, there are issues with how it is responded to, including a lack of services to refer on to for older people and a lack of age appropriate tools and resources to draw upon. Issues around the cross over between elder abuse and domestic abuse for older people, particularly where care and support needs are present, also complicate this area of practice. This presentation will report on the key findings from this research, as well as sharing some core recommendations for practice, policy and future research. Consideration will also be given as to the contribution that the research makes in constructing a more coherent picture of domestic violence in the older population.

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More Information

Depositing User: Sarah Lonbay


Item ID: 15607

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Sarah Lonbay: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2023 12:21
Last Modified: 18 May 2023 09:36


Author: Sarah Lonbay ORCID iD
Author: C. Southall

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences > Centre for Applied Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Health and Social Care
Social Sciences > Sociology
Social Sciences

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