Crime victim services providers, advocates, VOCA administrators, and other stakeholders and professionals within the crime victims field need resources and critical information to address the systemic barriers faced by older victims seeking access to healing supports and just outcomes. The capacity of service providers and stakeholders to understand the unique dynamics at play for older crime survivors, especially older survivors for marginalized communities, is critical to ensuring they can minimize the risk of future harm and access justice.

NCALL was a lead partner on older adults for the National Resource Center on Reaching Victims (NRC). NCALL’s work on this project focuses on enhancing the capacity of criminal justice systems advocates and stakeholders to identify, reach, and serve all victims, especially those from communities that too often have less access to healing services and avenues to justice. To learn more about the NCALL’s work with the NRC, click here.

Selected Resources

Increasing Access to Healing Services and Just Outcomes for Older African American Crime Survivors toolkit

Older African Americans experience crime and violence at the intersections of race, age, class, and other identities. Systemic and institutional challenges create barriers for older African American survivors seeking services and supports to heal from harm. This toolkit offers victim services providers and criminal justice systems stakeholders information and practical strategies to enhance their capacity to identify, reach, and serve older African American victims.

The toolkit includes a guide with five content modules. Within each module are video clips, including: an expert panel discussing the specific challenges faced by older African American victims, and/or, older survivors sharing their stories of victimization and the unique dynamics at play in their journey toward healing and recovery. Each module also contains a set of reflection questions designed to help readers synthesize the key points and explore how the strategies offered can be applied in their work. This toolkit also includes a workbook with the reflection questions for users to reflect on the topics explored in the modules. Use the links below to access the guide and its components.

Other pages in this section

Civil Attorneys
Civil attorneys and other civil legal system professionals work each day to ensure victim safety and hold offenders accountable for harm to older survivors. Their knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of elder abuse, as well as the legal remedies and non-litigation resources available to older survivors, are critical in developing effective intervention strategies to end elder abuse and prevent further harm to older adults.
Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocates and Programs
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.
Faith Leaders
Many older Americans turn to their faith communities and faith leaders for help when they are experiencing abuse. Older survivors know and deeply trust faith leaders and community members and often reach out for assistance in times of great need. As a faith leader, you can play a critical role in responding to abuse as well as improving access to services and supports for older survivors in your community.
Healthcare Providers
Health care providers are in a unique position to identify and respond to abuse in later life. Often, many older adults, especially survivors, have an ongoing relationship with one or more health care providers. Primary care physicians, emergency room staff, geriatricians, dentists, physical therapists, and other providers each have an opportunity to see injuries suggesting abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or indicators of trauma.
A significant number of reported cases of elder abuse do not progress through the criminal justice system. Whether an elder abuse case is successfully prosecuted may depend on a prosecuting attorney’s familiarity with effective investigation and prosecution strategies. Further, prosecutors must be able to collaborate across disciplines to increase victim identification, to encourage victims to engage with the criminal system, and to ultimately hold more offenders accountable.
Law Enforcement
As first responders, law enforcement officers can play a key role in providing an effective response to abuse in later life at the local level. In many cases, law enforcement can use tools already used in domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, and sexual abuse cases to interview victims and gather evidence. Officers can also benefit from learning about abuse in later life and abuse dynamics; appropriate referral resources for intervention and support for older victims; and working collaboratively with other organizations.
Professionals Working in Tribal Communities
In many cultures, elders preserve traditions and share wisdom to help ensure community permanency and balance. Indigenous communities often hold elders in a unique and important social position. The dramatic increase in the number of older individuals has led to concern over the well-being of older adults in these communities.
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