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.

Selected Resources

Working with Older Survivors of Abuse: A Framework for Advocates

Guiding Principles Cover featuring a grid with various older adults' facesIn 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 download this resource with captioned videos, please click here. To download this resource with visually described videos, please click here.

Abuse in Later Life Education Series for Advocates

The Abuse in Later Life Education Series for Advocates consists of 20 instructional video clips featuring national experts discussing key topics advocates encounter when serving older survivors. The training modules are formatted as videos, each less than 30 minutes in length. A worksheet accompanies each module with links to additional resources and questions for advocates and programs to consider as they incorporate key content into their practice.

For your convenience, NCALL has created a chart individuals can use to track which modules they have watched. The document contains the module title, information on the presenters, the length of each recorded module, and space to write the date the module was watched.

Please note: There is no cost to view these modules. You will be prompted to complete a short survey of 3 questions prior to accessing each module.

The Abuse in Later Life Education Series for Advocates is currently supported with Grant No. 2016-TA-AX-K077 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL), you may do so on our Donation page.


MODULE 1: Overview

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define why advocates must address abuse in later life
  • Identify NCALL resources for advocates on working with older survivors

Module includes:


MODULE 2: Defining Elder Abuse & Abuse in Later Life

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define elder abuse and abuse in later life

Module includes:


Lois, survivor: image of older woman wearing eyeglasses, teal shirt
Lois, survivor
MODULE 3: Intimate Partner Violence in Later Life

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define intimate partner violence in later life
  • Recognize that a significant portion of elder abuse cases involve female victims with spouses as perpetrators
  • Describe power and control tactics in abuse in later life

Module includes:


Sue Hall Dreher: image of woman wearing red eyeglasses
Sue Hall Dreher, consultant
MODULE 4: Sexual Abuse in Later Life

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define sexual abuse in later life
  • Recognize unique issues for older victims

Module includes:


MODULE 5: Stalking in Later Life

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Describe in later life
  • Explore some of the unique issues for older victims of stalking
  • Recognize technology can be used in stalking in later life

Module includes:


Anne, Survivor: older woman wearing eyeglasses, with short gray hair and a floral blouse
Anne, Survivor
MODULE 6: Economic Abuse & Financial Exploitation in Later Life

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define and identify indicators of economic abuse in the context of intimate partner violence
  • Define and identify indicators of financial exploitation by family members, trusted others, or strangers
  • Identify resources to assist older victims who have experienced economic abuse or financial exploitation

Module includes:


Ricker Hamilton, Maine Department of Health & Human Services: man with short gray hair, speaking
Ricker Hamilton, Maine Department of Health & Human Services
MODULE 7: Neglect, Self-Neglect & the Role of APS

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define neglect and self-neglect Identify indicators of neglect Initiate contact with adult protective services and other professionals when appropriate

Module includes:


Bonnie Brandl, National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life: woman with shoulder length blonde hair, speaking
Bonnie Brandl, NCALL
MODULE 8: Power and Control Tactics & the Role of Caregiver Stress

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify the dynamics of power & control and/or entitlement in abuse in later life relationships
  • Explore additional scenarios where harm may occur in relationships
  • Clarify the relationship between caregiver stress and abuse

Module includes:


Ann Turner, National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life: older woman with curly brown hair, speaking
Ann Turner, NCALL
MODULE 9: Victim-Defined Advocacy

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define victim-defined advocacy for older survivors
  • Provide strength-based support to older survivors of abuse
  • Practice respectful, effective communication when working with older victims

Module includes:


Amy Judy: woman with head tilted, speaking
Amy Judy, consultant
MODULE 10: Trauma & Older Survivors

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define individual and historical trauma
  • Understand the influence of trauma on older survivors

Module includes:


Latrice Hogan, consultant: woman with shoulder length brown hair, speaking
Latrice Hogan, consultant
MODULE 11: Providing Trauma-Informed Advocacy for Older Survivors

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify the effects of trauma on trauma survivors
  • Provide trauma-informed advocacy when working with older survivors

Module includes:


Alicia Aiken, The Confidentiality Institute: woman with shoulder length red hair, speaking
Alicia Aiken, The Confidentiality Institute
MODULE 12: Mandatory Reporting

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define the relationship between privacy, confidentiality, and mandatory reporting
  • Determine whether or not you are a mandatory reporter and your legal obligations
  • Develop policies and practices to address mandatory reporting that minimize any unintended consequences to victims and promote autonomy and safety

Module includes:


Anne Menard, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence: woman with short, gray curly hair and eyeglasses, speaking
Anne Menard, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
MODULE 13: Elder-Informed Victim Services

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Recognize the importance of including elder voices in designing programming and policy
  • Utilize the tools and strategies needed to implement inclusive, elder-informed programs and policies

Module includes:


Alice Ghareib, DOVES Program, Area Agency on Aging woman with dark, shoulder length hair, speaking
Alice Ghareib, DOVES Program, Area Agency on Aging
MODULE 14: Support Groups for Older Survivors

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify why support groups are important for older survivors
  • Apply survivor centered practices when planning & designing support group practices
  • Develop an effective outreach plan to encourage attendance

Module includes:


Rebecca Henry, American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence: woman with short brown hair, looking forward
Rebecca Henry, American Bar Association, Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence
MODULE 15: Powers of Attorney and Guardianship

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify and describe documents and processes that designate a substitute decision maker to act on an older survivor’s
    behalf
  • Recognize the warning signs of abuse by a substitute decision maker
  • Identify national and local legal resources available to address power of attorney and guardianship concerns

Module includes:


Bonnie Brandl, National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life: woman with shoulder length blonde hair, speaking
Bonnie Brandl, National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
MODULE 16: Policies to Enhance Safety for Older Survivors

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Recognize unique role advocates play in providing services to older adults
  • Identify barriers to common policies utilized by direct service Domestic Violence and Sexual
  • Assault victim service agencies
  • Design agency policies that better meet the needs of older survivors

Module includes:


MODULE 17: Advancing Equity for Older Victims

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Define equity
  • Describe barriers to equity in services and programs
  • Identify strategies to promote equity for older survivors

Module includes:


Juanita Davis, NCALL: woman wearing eyeglasses, short curly hair, speaking
Juanita Davis, NCALL
MODULE 18: Collaboration—Making It Work For You

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify the benefits of collaboration
  • Distinguish the types of collaborative groups
  • Recognize the issues and challenges to collaboration

Module includes:


Lisa Furr, NCALL: woman wearing eyeglasses, short brown hair, speaking
Lisa Furr, NCALL
MODULE 19: Increasing Awareness of Abuse in Later Life

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Recognize some of the opportunities to raise awareness of elder abuse and abuse in later life
  • Find or create awareness materials that are relevant and accessible to older survivors of abuse in your community and the professionals who work with older survivors

Module includes:


Alicia Aiken, The Confidentiality Institute: woman with shoulder length red hair, speaking
Alicia Aiken, The Confidentiality Institute
Module 20: Working with Survivors Who Have Guardians

As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Describe the basic concept of guardianships
  • Determine their ability to provide services to an older survivor who has a guardian, and
  • Provide services to a survivor in accordance with local laws and the terms of that survivor’s guardianship.

Module includes:

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 & Mandatory Reporting
Domestic Violence in Later Life

The following resources explore domestic abuse against older adults that is perpetrated by a spouse or intimate partner.

Partnering to Address Faith and Safety

These tools provide 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.


Webinar
  • Pursuing Respect and Justice for Faith-Engaged Older Victims of Abuse — this webinar explores how faith can be both a barrier and a resource for older victims and how partnerships between service providers and faith leaders can strengthen well-being and support for older victims of abuse. The webinar also discusses resources and available training that could help you enhance the quality of life of older victims in your community who are faith-involved.
Safety Planning

These safety planning 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.

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.
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.
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.
Prosecutors
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.
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