AGING SERVICES: Domestic Violence in Later Life

Domestic Violence in Later Life

What Is Domestic Violence in Later Life?
The Administration for Community Living provides the following overview of Domestic Violence specifically focusing on older adults.
Domestic violence in later life occurs when a person uses power and control to inflict physical, sexual, emotional, or financial injury or harm upon an older adult with whom they have an ongoing relationship. The aggressors include spouses and former spouses, partners, adult children, extended family, and in some cases caregivers. The problem occurs in all communities, and affects people of all ethnic, cultural, racial, economic, and religious backgrounds. Although most victims are female, men can be harmed, too.
Generally, abusers use a pattern of coercive tactics, such as isolation, threats, intimidation, manipulation, and violence, to gain and maintain power over their victims. Often they tell their victims where they can go, whom they can see, and how they can spend their money — in other words, control their decisions. Some abusers use their role and power to financially exploit their victims. Others feel that they are entitled to get their way because they are the "head of the household," or because they are younger and physically stronger than their victim is.
Some experts view late life domestic violence as a sub-set of the larger elder abuse problem. Elder abuse, broadly defined, includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect and self-neglect, and abandonment. The distinctive context of domestic abuse in later life is the abusive use of power and control by a spouse/partner or other person known to the victim. The domestic violence and aging networks are encouraged not to try to draw fine lines between the two service systems. That is, not to try to answer, “Is this domestic violence?”, or, “Is this elder abuse?” Rather, efforts should be made to maximize the capacity of both systems by partnering to meet older victims' unique needs.
To learn more about the relationship between elder abuse and domestic violence, please read the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) issue brief “Late Life Domestic Violence: What the Aging Network Needs to Know.” In addition, the NCEA produced a complete series of briefs on late life domestic violence. To view the complete series, visit the “Publications” section of the NCEA website and select the topic “Domestic Violence in Later Life” from the menu.
Please follow this link for the National Center on Elder Abuse factsheet:
What is Elder Abuse?
     Elder abuse is any form of mistreatment, even by a family member, that results in harm or loss to an older person.  People can be abused in different ways:
·        Financial Exploitation: Being forced to sign or hand over money -- such as Social Security checks, pension checks, savings accounts -- or property or being scammed by contractors…!
·        Physical Abuse: Results in bodily pain, injury or impairment like being slapped, hit, or pushed;
·        Emotional Abuse: Infliction of mental or emotional anguish such as insults, threats, or name-calling;
·        Neglect: Being denied food, medical care, clothing, shelter or social contact;
·        Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind;
·        Self Neglect: Inability and/or unwillingness to meet one’s own self-care needs that impacts the person’s health
Where Does Abuse Happen?
     Abuse can occur ANYWHERE such as in one’s own home, a caregiver’s home, adult day care, nursing home, or hospital.
What Can You Do?
     There is help and support in Connecticut for older persons who may be experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation. Anyone – a friend, a neighbor, a family member, or even an acquaintance – can and should make a call to Protective Services for the Elderly at 1-888-385-4225 if you think an elder you know has been or is being abused. To learn more about elder abuse and other resources, call CHOICES at your Area Agency on Aging - 1-800-994-9422.
Other info---
     In Connecticut, the primary responsibility for investigating and dealing with the issues of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation resides with the Department of Social Services, Protective Services for the Elderly (PSE) Program. Chapter 319dd, Connecticut General Statutes Sec.17b-450-Sec.17b-461 provides the basis and responsibility for this program. This law was enacted in 1978. It pertains specifically to adults 60 and over, includes neglect, abuse, exploitation and abandonment and mandates certain categories of professionals to report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation.
     With regard to reporting, although some professionals are "mandated" to report suspected cases of elder abuse, anyone who suspects that an older adult is being abused, neglected or exploited should make a report to the Regional Office of the CT Department of Social Services (DSS). If it is determined that an elderly person is in need of protective services, DSS provides crisis intervention services.
     No one has to handle crisis situations without the benefit of community resources. Protective services are provided to those in need regardless of income or assets. In addition to Protective Services for the Elderly, many municipalities have social services for senior adults.
     In extreme cases, if an elderly person does not give consent to receive "necessary and reasonable services" and it is felt that he or she lacks the capacity to give consent, DSS Protective Services staff may seek court authorization to provide these services. In certain circumstances, DSS may petition the Probate Court for the appointment of a conservator whose role it is to make decisions on behalf of the client. If possible, a family member will assume that role or if none is available or capable, the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services will be named as Conservator.
     To contact Protective Services for the Elderly in Connecticut, call 1-888-385-4225. For after hours emergencies, call Infoline 211. Infoline will have the social worker who is on-call contact you.
     If you are concerned about an older adult in a life or death situation, call 911.
     If you would like to report a case of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation, call CT Protective Services for the Elderly at 1-800-385-4225.
     If you would like to speak with someone regarding services and programs available to assist senior and their families, contact your local Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-994-9422.
Resources on Fighting Domestic Violence:
Dept. of Social Services, Social Work Services - Domestic Violence Shelters and Services Program
This program provides shelter services, including support staff, emergency food and living expenses and social services for victims of household abuse. It is also intended to reduce the incidence of household abuse through preventive education programs. The Department contracts with non-profit organizations to provide these services in their localities.
Shelter services are provided to victims of abuse and their children. Sixteen programs operate shelters around the state, offering stays up to 60 days. Two programs arrange emergency shelter in a private host home for up to 72 hours. Support services are provided to victims and their families that do not require emergency shelter. These services include telephone hotline crisis counseling, information and referral, and in-person counseling.    For more information please call 2-1-1. - CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence - is a membership organization whose purpose is to work together to end domestic violence by advocating for victims and changing the social conditions, beliefs, and social actions that perpetuate abuse against victims of domestic violence.  CCADV is a statewide network of community-based programs providing shelter, support, and advocacy to victims of domestic violence. CCADV provides program coordination and skills training to assist member programs to develop, enhance, and improve their programs, policies and services.
Toll-Free 24-Hour Crisis Line: 1-888-774-2900
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
National Sexual Assult Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
State of CT Office of Victim Services:
The Office is the state's lead agency established to provide services to victims of violent crime.

State of CT Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) is an independent state "watchdog" agency charged with protecting and promoting the rights of crime victims in Connecticut's criminal justice system and with monitoring and evaluating the provision of services by Connecticut's victim services delivery system.
National Network to End Domestic Violence: A national advocacy organization.
CT Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS) is a statewide coalition of individual sexual assault crisis programs. CONNSACS works to end sexual violence through victim assistance, community education, and public policy advocacy. Their mission is to end sexual violence and ensure high quality, comprehensive, and culturally competent sexual assault victim services.
Statewide 24 Hour Toll Free Hotline
1-888-999-5545 English
1-888-568-8332 Español
National Center on Elder Abuse: serves as a national resource center dedicated to the prevention of elder mistreatment, and operates as a multi-disciplinary consortium of collaborators with expertise in elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life:  Provide national technical assistance, training, consultation, program development and support to professionals who work in the areas of elder abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault in later life and abuse against persons with disabilities. 
CHERISH: provides a safe place for abused seniors to stay.  By partnering with assisted living communities, retirement homes, and skilled nursing facilities, CHERISH is able to provide a safe environment, as well as ensure that clients receive nourishing meals, medication management, and assistance with activities of daily living if required.  In addition, CHERISH offers counseling services, and facilitates access to support services, medical assistance, housing, financial resources and support groups.
The Umbrella: 24-Hour Confidential Hotline: 203-736-9944; Phone 203-736-2601.
PO Box 658, 435 East Main Street, Ansonia, CT 06401
The Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Jewish Home for the Elderly: offers a wide range of services on elder abuse and elder abuse prevention. A call provides prompt access to their crisis "Shelter Without Walls" providing confidential, emergency, short-term housing and support services for victims. Working collaboratively with partners, The Center for Elder Abuse Prevention can provide access to non-medical home care, adult day services, geriatric assessments and care management services to those individuals that qualify. The Center also offers training modules to educate the public, law enforcement and health care professionals about the signs and symptoms of elder abuse as well as information on the resources that exist for those who have been victimized.
To access the services listed above, call: 203-396-1097
The Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at
The Jewish Home for the Elderly (JHE)
175 Jefferson Street, Fairfield, CT 06825
Coalition for the Advocacy, Prevention and Elimination of Older Adult Abuse in Greater Bridgeport, CT (CAPE): a collaborative initiative of the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging and The Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Jewish Home for the Elderly (JHE) serves six communities that make up the Greater Bridgeport area. Their slogan: “Elder Abuse is Preventable.”  The 76-member coalition formed three committees—Advocacy, Awareness and Case Conferencing.  Advocacy efforts have promoted a legislative agenda that addresses gaps in the area of elder abuse.  Education and awareness activities included library displays, local presentations, and marketing efforts, such as brochures, billboards, bookmarks and a financial abuse prevention initiative with a local bank.  It has also developed an infrastructure to coordinate information and resources among aging services providers and other appropriate community services. For more information about its activities contact Laura Snow at 203-396-1097 or email

Content Last Modified on 10/1/2012 12:03:53 PM