Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Intimate Partner Abuse of Older Adults

What can I do?

It is important to understand the needs the victim has in order to present real options for safety.  For instance, if you help the victim remove the abuser from the home but do not plan for assistance: getting groceries, getting to medical appointments, or other things the abuser provided the victim, they may be more likely to ask the abuser back or suffer from self-neglect. 

What if someone I know is being abused but they won’t make their abuser leave?

As with victims of domestic violence of all ages and abilities, separating from the abuser is not always the safest or best option. There are many factors to consider when deciding what to do. Older victims of domestic violence face additional barriers:

Some older people are abused by other family members - often their children or grandchildren. In these cases, many of the same dynamics exist as with intimate partner violence. These factors can be even worse if older victims are becoming less able to take care of themselves.  Additionally, it may be incredibly hard for a victim to see that their own child is choosing to hurt them.  They may never choose to have their child arrested or force them to move out.

How to Safety Plan

Sometimes the best thing you can do to help a victim of abuse who is not ready or able to leave the situation is to help them consider their options and plan for their safety. 

Domestic violence safety planning is an ongoing process of considering and selecting options that may help a victim remain safer– it means helping a victim creatively brainstorm their options and the possible advantages and consequences of each.  

A decision to stay may be a safety strategy and making a plan in case things get worse may help.  For example, if a victim was living with an abusive family member or caretaker you may discuss with them ideas such as: