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