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

Sarah Lonbay*, Carole Southall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many older people are subjected to domestic abuse every year and yet this is an issue that has been neglected in terms of policy, practice, and research. 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 practitioners from statutory and voluntary sector agencies and 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 as domestic abuse and it is 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 that complicate this area of practice include the cross over between elder abuse and domestic abuse for older people, particularly where care and support needs are present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-386
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2024

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