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Grey matters

Domestic abuse does not discriminate on the basis of age. Any older or any elderly person can be abused, regardless of gender, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or background.

Recent Scottish Government statistics have highlighted that nearly 1 in 10 victims of domestic abuse are over 51 years old – that’s an awful lot of our mothers, grannies, sisters, aunties, friends and neighbours, not forgetting that dads and grandpas are also at risk simply because they’re old. As people age they may become increasingly dependent on their abuser for housing, financial support and health care, and this makes them particularly vulnerable.

The ways in which older people can be abused

Domestic violence can include physical, emotional, financial, psychological or sexual abuse. Most older people are abused by someone they know and trust: a partner or ex-partner, a family member, a son or daughter, carers, people in positions of authority, neighbours. Older women are particularly vulnerable to abuse.

The abuser may:

  • Physically or mentally hurt you
  • Subject you to ongoing abuse or violence
  • Constantly criticise your appearance, undermine your decisions and opinions
  • Blame you for everything that goes wrong
  • Leave you alone for long periods of time
  • Exploit some vulnerability or illness from which you may be suffering, including dementia (projected to increase by 50% over the next 20 years)
  • Deliberately withhold medication or medical treatment
  • Constantly demand you to justify what you spend money on, or take your money
  • Threaten to place you in a residential service against your will
  • Try to isolate you from your friends, family and grandchildren
  • Intimidate and threaten to harm you or those close to you
  • Harm, or threaten to harm, your pet

Sexual violence and older people

Sexual violence/abuse refers to any sexual acts that a person does not consent to take part in.

It can include:

  • Rape
  • Unwanted touching or kissing
  • Withholding care needs unless you have sex
  • Coerced sexual activities, including those that involve violence and pain
  • Using medication or alcohol to make you vulnerable in order to have sex with them
  • Forcing you to watch or participate in pornography

BWA is here to help

Recognising what is happening to you, or has happened in the past, is the first step in escaping the pain and misery of domestic abuse. It can be hard to pick up the phone for the first time, especially if you have been suffering for a long time, and it feels somehow normal. We understand you may not know what to say or how to start. That you may be embarrassed, ashamed, or worried about damaging your relationships with other family members. Our trained workers will put you at ease, treat you seriously and with respect, and help you get the support you need to live a better life, free from fear.

It’s never too late.


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