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NCALL 20th Anniversary Blog Series
Bonnie Brandl


In 2019 The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) is celebrating 20 years of engaging communities to foster a collaborative, inclusive, survivor-centered response to abuse in later life. Over the next 12-months, we will be highlighting perspectives and stories from staff, allies and older survivors who have worked closely for or with NCALL over the past 20 years. To kick off this exciting anniversary year, NCALL Director, Bonnie Brandl, answered some questions to reflect on how we got here, and what she is looking towards in the future.


Let’s start at the beginning, what inspired you to start the work of NCALL?

The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life was born from lessons learned listening to older victims of abuse and working closely with key partners in Wisconsin.   In 1994 – 1996, End Abuse WI received national demonstration project funding from the Administration on Aging.  Jane Raymond, lead staff in Wisconsin for adult protective services, and I worked with state and local partners to develop educational materials to address the needs of older victims of domestic violence. We learned so much from this process.  After the grant ended, I traveled throughout the United States sharing the knowledge I gained and learning still more from other older survivors and professionals.

From there, with the support of Mary Lauby, Amy Judy, Betsy Abramson, Linda Dawson, and of course Jane and others, we applied for funding with the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) to create a national clearinghouse as a vehicle to continue this work. Since then, NCALL has prided itself on providing leadership on training and technical assistance throughout the United States on how to address victims whose lived experiences are at the intersection of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and elder abuse.

What moves you to work on issues related to abuse in later life?

I am moved by the older survivors of abuse I’ve met in the more than 25+ years I’ve been doing this work. Helen, who I worked with as a shelter advocate in 1983, Bonnie H and other women attending support groups throughout Wisconsin in the 1990s, and all the survivors we filmed for In Their Own Words in 2007 and Lifting Up Voices of Older Survivors in 2018—I am humbled by your courage, strength, and resiliency. I’ve also had the privilege to work with many amazing professionals (too many wonderful people to list in this blog so forgive me*) throughout Wisconsin, the United States, and around the world whose commitment to confronting ageism, addressing abuse in later life, and promoting elder justice is inspiring.  And of course, I have been blessed to work with NCALL staff and consultants who are committed to delivering high quality training, technical assistance, and materials while maintaining a sense of joy and humor.

NCALL has covered a lot of ground over the years. What would you say is the organization’s biggest impact over the past 20 years?

NCALL’s staff and consultants throughout the United States have accomplished so many things it’s hard to know where to begin! I am proud of our work with the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) as the sole comprehensive national technical assistance provider and resource center for the OVW Abuse in Later Life grantee program. Since 2006, OVW and NCALL have worked with over 100 communities, tribes and territories to educate professionals, create and enhance a coordinated community response and deliver victim services. In partnership with OVW’s Janice Green and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Futures Without Violence and AEquitas, we created curricula for law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, and victim service providers and have trained thousands of professionals, who then have been able to disseminate those trainings further into their communities. I am proud to have worked with MT Connelly, Risa Breckman, Andy Mao and many others on the Elder Justice Roadmap project. Our work to create a toolkit and other materials with Anne Marie Hunter and Alyson Morse Katzman of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership on Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse has been a gift to me personally and to the field. I’ve felt privileged to work with Jim Vanden Bosch of Terra Nova Films and Meg Morrow and Laura Ivkovich from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to create the video products In Their Own Words and Lifting Up Voices of Older Survivors. And most recently, I’m thrilled that NCALL is partnering with the Vera Institute of Justice and OVC’s National Resource Center on Reaching Victims to better address the needs of victims from marginalized and diverse communities.

The landscape has changed over the years. What do you see as the largest shift in the field of abuse in later life?

When I started doing this work in the early 1990’s, research suggested that caregiver stress was the primary cause of elder abuse. One can see how this is an easy assumption to make. But, over the years, through additional research, and listening to victims, we learned that the causes of elder abuse are more complex than caregiver burden, and that more multifaceted approaches are required. The field has moved to understand the role of entitlement and power and control tactics by abusers in many elder abuse situations.  A collaborative approach is crucial to engage the victim services field, the criminal justice system, adult protective services, the aging services network, health care, the faith community and others in promoting victim safety and holding offenders accountable.

Looking ahead, what do you see as the main set of priorities for leaders in this work going into the next 20 years?

There are so many opportunities! As a society, we need to promote dignity and respect of all individuals by celebrating the wisdom and lived experience of older adults while confronting ageist assumptions, attitudes and behaviors.  As a field, we need to meet older victims where they are at – including addressing how race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, and physical and mental health conditions may impact the options available to older victims and the choices they make.  We need to work more closely with the trauma, mental health, and substance abuse fields to better serve victims and to work towards healing and accountability, when possible, for those who harm older adults. We need to learn more from people who are studying dementia and other brain disorders about effective interventions and safety planning with people with cognitive challenges. We need program evaluation to better understand which services and interventions are most effective for various, diverse populations, particularly for those who have experienced chronic trauma throughout their lives, either through child abuse, or intimate partner violence earlier in life. If that is not enough to tackle, I’d love to see more work on prevention and social justice that shifts us from a set of societal norms that devalues older individuals to a culture that is unwilling to ignore abuse, neglect and exploitation against older adults, and sees people in later life as holding value and strength in our communities.

*NCALL thanks all of the folks not mentioned explicitly who contributed to the founding and growing of NCALL over the past 20 years.


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The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has opened the grant solicitation for OVW Fiscal Year 2019 Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life Program. All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on January 8, 2019

This grant program creates a unique opportunity for providing or enhancing training and services to address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, involving victims who are 50 years of age or older.

Please visit this page to learn more about the program:

You can find a copy of the RFP at:

NCALL receives funding from OVW to provide technical assistance for this program. For more information about the solicitation, please contact Janice Green at the Office on Violence Against Women at For more general information about the grant program and NCALL’s work with it, contact Lisa Furr, NCALL Program Manager, at or (804) 543-4228.

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Earlier this year, NCALL joined other members of The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence’s (NRCDV) Domestic Violence Awareness Project Advisory Committee (DVAP) in Baltimore to develop a message for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) 2018 and beyond that represents a unified voice about gender-based violence and its impact on society. That message is #1Thing. There is so much value and power in each person’s #1Thing, when sharing our story. The survivor’s story. The advocate’s story. Each community’s story. The story of the movement to end gender-based violence. The #1Thing message helps us all see how our collective “one things” can help bring about social transformation. To learn more, please visit the DVAP website and download the #1Thing Action Guide with sample social media posts, graphics, and more.

What’s Your #1Thing?

#1Thing is about moving people into action. It inspires thinking about how you, as an individual, can take small steps that leads to real change. What’s your 1 Thing? Consider these conversation starters:

  • #1Thing I want to share about my story
  • As a survivor, #1Thing I need advocates to know
  • #1Thing that has inspired me to work to end gender-based violence
  • #1Thing I want my children to know
  • As a community leader, #1Thing I want to share
  • #1Thing I do to take care of myself
  • #1Thing that impacts my healing & resilience the most
  • #1Thing I wish policy makers knew about gender-based violence & its impact on communities
  • #1Thing my family could do to support my healing

NCALL’s New Educational Resources!

Last year, NCALL unveiled our Abuse in Later Life Education Series for Advocates, 13 instructional video clips aimed at providing information that highlights some of the unique issues experienced by older survivors of abuse. In conjunction with DVAM 2018, we are proud to supplement this education series with seven new modules on the following topics:

  • Support Groups for Older Survivors
  • Powers of Attorney and Guardianship
  • Policies to Enhance Safety for Older Survivors
  • Equity for Older Victims
  • Collaboration
  • Ways to Increase Awareness of Abuse in Later Life
  • Working with Survivors Who Have Guardians

All of these training modules are formatted as videos, each less than 30 minutes in length, and come with a worksheet containing links to additional resources and questions for advocates and programs to consider as they incorporate key content into their practice. Find them on NCALL’s website at:



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The NCALL team is excited to announce that Katie Block has joined our staff on October 1 as the new National Resource Center Project Coordinator! Katie brings a vast set of skills and expertise on elder abuse, advocacy, and victim services work. She has a background in social work, public health, and communications, with a focus on developing and supporting victim services programming for older adults. Katie has a deep commitment to the work of building equitable access for older victims that is uniquely aligned with our vision and mission.

At NCALL, Katie will coordinate NCALL’s work with the new National Resource Center for Reaching Victims (NRC) related to older victims of crime. Through comprehensive training and technical assistance, the NRC serves as a one-stop shop where victim service providers, culturally specific organizations, criminal justice professionals, and policymakers may get information and expert guidance to enhance their capacity to identify, reach, and serve all victims, especially those from communities that too often have less access to healing services and avenues to justice. For more information about the NRC, or to contact Katie, please send her an email at:

Please join us in welcoming Katie to the NCALL team and to End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin!

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On this first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) celebrates a year of great accomplishments with the domestic violence movement. As the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is set to expire, many across our movement have worked tirelessly toward the Reauthorization of VAWA, which creates critical enhancements to the law and improves how we can respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking across the nation.

At NCALL, we are proud to elevate the voices of older survivors of domestic violence in this celebration. This month, NCALL welcomes a new class of grantees of the Office on Violence Against Women’s Abuse in Later Life grant program. These grantees will be working in their communities to educate professionals working with older survivors, to provide direct services to older survivors, and to enhance a coordinated community response to abuse in later life.

Also this month, NCALL is releasing several new modules in our Abuse in Later Life Education Series for Advocates. These training modules are designed to enhance responses by community-based domestic violence and sexual assault agency staff and volunteers to the unique needs of older survivors. We are also a proud partner in the Office for Victims of Crime’s new National Resource Center on Serving Victims (NRC). The NRC is a one-stop shop for the crime victims’ field to access training and technical assistance and enhance victim services to underserved victims of crime, including older victims.

Finally, NCALL is glad to continue to participate in the National Center on Elder Abuse’s Advisory Board where we work in partnership with various experts in the elder abuse field to make certain that older adults live with dignity and respect and free from harm. For more information about NCALL’s work, please visit our website at:

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is not only an opportunity for our movement to take stock of and reflect on what we have achieved, it is also an opportunity to ponder anew what we have yet to do to fully realize our aims as an anti-violence movement.

Specifically, it is important for us to consider whether our stated values of inclusion, respect, and social justice are true for all who work in our movement and for each survivor, especially survivors at the margins of our work. For many at the margins, issues of oppression and marginalization within our movement create challenges and barriers to healing and accessing justice. These issues are real and they demand our attention because what is happening to those at the edges of our work is also happening to “us”.

As we move into Domestic Violence Awareness Month and further into our work as a movement, we must deeply consider these challenges and what they mean for our moral identity and for our place as leaders in the struggle for a more just society. If we are able to do critical work to address these issues, we will become more capable of being who we aim to be, and that too will be worth celebrating.

Juanita Davis

Juanita Davis, J.D., is a Program Manager for the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life.

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Reaching Victims of Crime Mini-Grant Overview 

The Reaching Victims Mini-Grant program will fund up to 10 projects, with awards up to $50,000, that seek to better identify, reach, and/or serve victims from communities that are frequently underrepresented in healing services and avenues to justice. Projects will be funded across a 9-month period starting in December 2018 and ending in August 2019. 

Important Dates

  • Informational sessions will be held on September 26, 2018 in English with American Sign Language interpretation, and on September 27, 2018 in Spanish.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to send an email to by October 5, 2018 stating an intent to apply.
  • Applications are due by October 12, 2018 by 11:59pm EST, and can be submitted online.
  • Applicants will be notified by November 2, 2018 of the outcome of their application.

Awards will be made for a 9-month period, starting December 1, 2018 and ending August 31, 2019.  

Informational Sessions

An informational webinar will be held about this opportunity to help orient applicants to the Reaching Victims of Crime Mini-Grant program and its requirements. During this session, participants will gain insight into the application, selection, and scoring process. In addition, participants will be able to pose questions to Resource Center staff about the solicitation. 

  • September 26, 2018, 2:30-4:30 PM EST: This webinar will be delivered in English with American Sign Language interpretation and with closed captions.
  • September 27, 2018,  2:30-4:30 PM EST: This webinar will be delivered in Spanish.

To Apply

Applications will be accepted online via Submittable. The online application is offered in both English and Spanish. Our online application process allows you to upload and attach files in Word, text-only, PDF, and Excel formats.

Upon request, we can provide the application in Word, text-only, and large print electronic formats. If you prefer to complete a paper application, we will accept applications in the mail. To request the application in an alternative format, please email us at  

Apply today: 
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LGBTQ Pride Month

This Pride month marks five years since the Supreme Court Windsor decision, and three years since Obergefell v. Hodges, which gave full marriage equality in all states and territories. While this is a significant advancement, the rash of new proposed laws and the Supreme Court rulings in recent years, even recent weeks, show that we have not achieved full equality under the law. 

Unfortunately, one place where there is full parity is the experience of abuse. In a 2015 report, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs showed that “Intimate Partner Violence within LGBTQ and HIV affected communities exists in concert with and is exacerbated by the broader forms of anti-LGBTQ and other forms of bias and discrimination that survivors experience. This is especially true for LGBTQ survivors with multiple marginalized identities, such as LGBTQ survivors of color, LGBTQ undocumented survivors, and LGBTQ survivors with disabilities.”

For older adults who are LGBTQ there is a knowledge of what was and how one had to function to survive oppression, arrest or institutionalization As recent as 1991, in my state of Virginia, it was still illegal to serve alcohol to a known “homosexual.” The state’s law reads “… a bar’s license may be suspended or revoked if the bar has become a meeting place and rendezvous for users of narcotics, drunks, homosexuals, prostitutes, pimps, panderers, gamblers or habitual law violators….”

For many LGBTQ older adults this is not just history but also the reality. When your abuser is your intimate partner or adult child it is often far scarier to call the local law enforcement or even reach out to domestic or sexual assault programs. When in the middle of a trauma it is difficult to educate service providers about your issues and needs, and even harder if  your recent memory of interaction with law enforcement involved getting arrested for being who you are. 

This is explained by the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging  and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) in their resource guide: “Despite the fact that we live in a time of tremendous social change and increasing visibility and inclusion of LGBT people, it is important to remember that today’s LGBT older adults came of age in an era that was far less affirming of their identities. For some, their true sexual orientations and gender identities were dangerous secrets that could result in loss of work, housing, and family, as well as the stigma of being labeled as criminals, sinners, and mentally ill. History taught this generation that hiding— presenting as heterosexual and gender conforming—was the key to physical, social, and financial survival. Therefore, many LGBT older people greatly feared association with a more open LGBT community, a feeling some hold to this day.” 

Has your agency done its homework to be welcoming and inclusive of older LGBTQ adults? Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your outreach to the LGBTQ community?
  • How does your agency let the LGBTQ community know they are educated about the issues of your local LGBTQ community and have addressed the barriers that make accessing the services difficult?
  • Do your promotional materials feature older adults of all types of races, nationalities, genders, and orientations?
  • Is your staff and board reflective of the community in which you live?

The following are some resources with relevant information on working with LGBTQ communities:

We have much to celebrate and yet there is much work to do! This Pride month we invite you to show your support and pride.  

Happy Pride! 

Lisa and the NCALL staff


Lisa G. Furr is a Program Manager for the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life.

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As we celebrate 2018 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I find myself proudly looking back on the year and on our many efforts at the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) to further our mission of fostering a collaborative, inclusive, survivor-centered response to abuse in later life. I want to share some of that progress with you. Over the past year, NCALL has:

  • Supported grantees of the Office on Violence Against Women’s Abuse in Later Life grant program to train criminal justice systems professionals and victim services providers and other professionals, to create or enhance a coordinated community response to abuse in later life, and to provide effective victim services to older survivors in their local communities.
  • Collaborated with the VERA Institute of Justice’s Center on Victimization and Safety, the Office for Victims of Crime, and many other project partners to help to co-create the new National Center for Reaching Victims (Center). The aim of the Center is to enhance services and resources for older survivors and other underserved populations of crime victims.
  • Elevated the voices of older victims through our Lifting Up Voices of Older Survivors video project. Through this project, we will create educational videos for professionals and community members. The videos will focus the lived experiences of older victims and help build the capacity of a range of professionals, who work with older victims of abuse.

I am excited about the work we have done at NCALL and where we can go in the years to come through hard work, partnership, and with an unwavering focus on centering older victims who live at the margins of the margins.

Author and social critic, James Baldwin, once said of the struggle for dignity, equality, and racial justice:

One can give nothing whatever without giving of oneself – that is to say, risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving. And, after all, one can give freedom by setting someone free.”

In an increasing challenging environment, we, as a field, must ask the critical question of what we can give of ourselves to older victims who live a daily struggle for dignity and justice. As communities of color, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and many other historically marginalized individuals encounter increasing and compounding oppression and xenophobia, we must fix our vision and our efforts on doing all that we can to advance the cause of justice for all older victims, especially those who are the most marginalized.

As we continue to labor in service of our vision of a society which respects all older adults, we must constantly inquire and analyze what we are risking, what more we can risk, and for whom we must risk more in the quest for a world where all forms of oppression are dismantled and older victims from all communities live free from abuse. Each day we do our work, NCALL joins with those who are answering this call for critical analysis.

On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I offer my commitment to continuing to push for the dignity of older victims and the concurrent and the inextricably related struggle for equity and justice. I also offer NCALL’s unwavering support for those working on behalf of older victims and for a vision of a better future for all.

In solidarity,

Juanita & the NCALL team


Juanita Davis, J.D., is a Program Manager for the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life.

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On June 7, 2018,  NCALL and the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) hosted a 90-minute webinar in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This webinar featured a 50-minute international conversation between Bonnie Brandl (United States), Dr. Jane Mears (Australia), Bridget Penhale (United Kingdom), and Laura Tamblyn Watts (Canada), as well as a discussion of new work, resources, and funding opportunities. Use the links below to access the full 90-minute webinar recording and its resource materials. You can also view the 50-minute international conversation alone by choosing the corresponding link below.

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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization  at the United Nations as a way for communities to raise awareness of elder abuse and neglect around the world. By setting aside a day, June 15, to focus on the cultural, social, economic, and demographic factors that contribute to the abuse and neglect of older adults, we hope to reduce or eliminate the astounding human and financial costs of abuse in later life.

Check out our WEAAD planning sheet to find ideas for raising awareness and supporting older survivors on June 15 and throughout the year. For additional ideas on how you can take action and to locate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day events near you, we invite you to visit the Administration for Community Living, National Center on Elder Abuse, and USC Center on Elder Mistreatment World Elder Abuse Awareness Day microsite at:

New Training and Educational Resources!
This June, we're making it even easier to learn about elder abuse and the unique issues facing older adults and survivors of abuse. In conjunction with WEAAD, we are pleased to release three new Training of Trainers (TOT) Modules to round out our Trainers' Toolkit. The modules, featuring NCALL Director, Bonnie Brandl, aim to provide trainers with tips and strategies to lead successful training events. The Trainers' Toolkit also features PowerPoint slides and interactive training exercises for use in creating or enhancing your own elder abuse training. Find them at: . Finally, please be sure to check out our new YouTube channel with more than 100 videos related to working with older survivors of abuse.

Selected World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2018 Events
Please follow us throughout the month on Twitter and Facebook and make plans to join the NCALL team for the following World Elder Abuse Awareness Day events:

June 7, 2pm ET: A Webinar  Celebrating 2018 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day featuring an international conversation with Bonnie Brandl (United States), Dr. Jane Mears (Australia), Bridget Penhale (United Kingdom), and Laura Tamblyn Watts (Canada). During the webinar, NCALL and staff from the Canadian Association of Retired Persons will also discuss new work, resources, and funding opportunities through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life grant program. Register at:

June 28, 2pm ET: NCALL and the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit will present Protection Orders and Older Victims: A Survivor-Centered Approach, a 60-minute webinar discussing the unique needs of older survivors who are seeking protection orders. Please join us to learn how you can better support an older survivor before, during, and after the court process. Register at:
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