Many older survivors will seek the help of domestic and sexual violence advocates and programs in dealing with the abuse they experience. Older victims can benefit from many of the services traditionally offered by domestic violence and sexual assault programs such as individual and peer counseling, support groups, emergency and transitional housing, and specialized economic and legal advocacy. However, domestic violence and sexual assault programs have not customarily served many victims age 50 and older. Typically, staff working in domestic violence or sexual assault programs have more experience working with younger populations than older individuals.
Notwithstanding these challenges, advocates and programs can have a profound and positive influence in the lives of older survivors. Advocates can use their specialized skills and training and their confidential relationship with survivors to help them better understand the dynamics of abuse; to be aware of the available options, services, and resources; and to assist them as they navigate through complex intervening systems. Advocates and programs can also help to combat ageist social norms by promoting dignity and respect for persons of all ages in their work and service programs.
In 2016, NCALL created the Working with Older Survivors of Abuse: A Framework for Advocates report. This summary report describes seven guiding principles with minimum guidelines and practical strategies for advocates and programs to consider when creating or enhancing their services to better meet the needs of older survivors. Hyperlinks to 34 video segments of experts discussing key content are interspersed throughout the document. To view this resource with captioned videos, please click here. To view this resource with visually described videos, please click here.
To explore additional ways that domestic and sexual violence advocates and programs can make a difference in the lives of older survivors, please visit our Take Action page.
Promoting Respect and Dignity Across the Lifespan: Working with Older Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence webinar
This webinar highlights NCALL’s Working with Older Survivors of Abuse: A Framework for Advocates summary report which describes guiding principles, minimum guidelines, and practical strategies to help victim service providers better serve older survivors of abuse.
Abuse in Later Life and Elder Abuse Page
These resources offer an overview of abuse in later life and abuse dynamics, discuss the importance of providing a survivor-centered response, and assert the critical role collaboration can play in abuse in later life cases.
Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting Page
Some advocates may be mandatory reporters. This series of information sheets provides an overview of mandatory reporting obligations.
Domestic Violence in Later Life Page
These resources explore domestic abuse against older adults that is perpetrated by a spouse or intimate partner.
Partnering to Address Faith and Safety: A Guide for Faith Leaders and Domestic and Sexual Violence Service Providers to Assist Older Victims of Abuse toolkit
This tool provides ideas for best practices and strategies for domestic and sexual violence service providers and faith leaders to use when building partnerships that support older victims and survivors.
Safety Planning Page
These resources provide examples of safety plans that can help older survivors think about planning for their safety and prepare in advance for the possibility of future violence.
NCALL Resources & Publications
Please visit our NCALL Resources and Publications page to view additional resources designed to help domestic and sexual violence advocates and programs effectively address the needs of older survivors.
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