SENIORS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE by Sharon Fillyaw

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According to Psych Central, a study found that 25% of women over the age of 65 experience physical and/or emotional abuse by an intimate partner (men can be victims as well). In this same study 70% of those indicated severe verbal threats, 18% reported physical abuse and 22% reported controlling behavior by their partner. Domestic Violence can be insidious; over time the relationship dynamic becomes the new “normal”. In this same study those who indicated controlling behavior have experienced domestic abuse for 10 years or more.

Preventelderabuse.org has identified a subset of domestic abuse known as “Late Onset Domestic Violence”; this occurs when an already difficult relationship encounters additional stressors which cause an uptick in abuse such as:

Retirement

Disability

Illness

Changes in sexual activity

Family involvement

Alcohol use is also a correlated factor; when a partner drinks to excess an intimate partner is unfortunately a very convenient outlet for the abuser to unleash unmitigated anger.

No relationship is perfect. It is very normal for couples to disagree, however, there are very pointed signs that can identify when the relationship is abusive and toxic:

– Explosive violence followed by the abuser being very apologetic but is
followed by increasing tension which ultimately results in another violent episode

– When angry, the abuser throws objects or punches walls/doors.

– The abuser, shoves, pulls, pinches, chokes or strikes (hits) the victim.

– The frequency of expolosive interactions increases or intensifies

– The victim is confused, “walking on eggshells”, the behavior of the abuser is
unpredictable; even a seemingly minor event can set him/her on a severe rant.

Senior Domestic Violence can dovetail with Elder Abuse. Elder Abuse can be inflicted by a caretaker, sibling, children/grandchildren, legal counsel, a salesprson, anyone in a position to inflict injury or emotional manipulation.

If you have a loved one in a nursing/rehab facility, be aware if there are emotional changes, if you see bruising, injuries or falls that can’t be explained or if there is widespread apathy among the staff. Follow your instincts, if you feel there is something amiss go with your gut and advocate for your loved one and express your concerns.

Please note that NEGLECT IS ABUSE. If a caretaker/family member/guardian ignores you, your needs, denies your version of events (gaslighting), calls you “crazy” essentially rendering you invisible; that this is a very virulent form of “silent” violence.

You have the right to be heard, to be treated fairly, the right to express your opinion and the right to be treated with respect.

With regard to legal representation, you have the right to understand what you are signing. It is abusive to be guilted or emotionally terrorized into signing any contractual agreement. Take your time to fully understand any legal document and never allow someone to rush you when making a decision.

If you are abused and need help reach out to a trusted person or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline -1-800-799-SAFE (7233) — this National Clearinghouse will connect you to the closest facility in your area. In addition to English and Spanish they also provide interpreter services in over 170 languages. The Victim Advocates will help ensure you receive the resources and assistance you need.

Please know, it is NOT and expression of love or concern when you physically or emotionally hurt your partner/loved one or are the victim of such behavior. If you are an abuser please seek counseling to root out the causes of your aggression. Generally, it is not your loved one you are angry with….it is yourself.

Be sure to watch Sharon’s Full Body and Fitness Workout on Comcast Channel’s 3,15 and 22; Verizon Channels 24,26 and 28; Mondays at 10 a.m. and Tuesdays’s at 6:30p.m.

I also instruct Advanced Core and Balance for Seniors at the Malden Senior Center call 781.397.7144 for details!

Remember to take care of yourself and…

Live Healthy!!

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