Posted by Emma McMorrow, Senior Associate
Domestic Abuse: there is no age limit
This article first appeared in Buckinghamshire Life magazine, November 2019.
Age UK has recently published a report which calls upon the Government ‘to make sure the voices of older people are heard, their rights are protected, and their needs included in future legislation addressing domestic abuse’.
Currently in England and Wales, Crime Survey does not collect data on adults over the age of 74. This is despite the fact that people of any age can experience domestic abuse and older people can be particularly vulnerable to certain forms of abuse. In 2017, over 200,000 people aged between 60 and 74 experienced domestic abuse and 23% of victim of domestic homicides are over the age of 60.*
The fact that data is not collected from people over the age of 74 means that we do not know the true prevalence of domestic abuse amongst the older generation. More importantly, older survivors of domestic abuse can face significant barriers in leaving abusive situations and many may be too frightened to reach out for help. The report highlights the fact that these barriers ‘can be severe for survivors who have been subject to years of abuse and feel that it is unresolvable, are experiencing long term health conditions or disability, or those who rely on their abuser for their care or money.’
In 2018/19 alone, the Age UK Advice Line received 655 enquiries relating to domestic abuse.** The charity are seeking a number of changes to help tackle domestic abuse; they are not calling for vital services and resources to be diverted from younger victims but are instead asking that law makers consider how to make the best use of resources that already exist. Age UK’s focus is not upon the criminal justice response to domestic abuse but the wider context. Whilst the criminal justice system is one element of the fight against abuse, Age UK propose that a new law is needed that goes further in recognising the role of public health bodies in addressing the issue and enabling survivors to escape abuse relationships. The changes sought by Age UK include:
- Data on domestic abuse must be gathered for all ages, not just people aged 74 and under.
- There should be training for health care practitioners, including GPs and practice nurses, who work with older people, particularly during hospital admission and discharge.
- Better links between the NHS and police are needed to make sure older victims of abuse are properly protected and supported.
If you wish to speak to anyone confidentially about domestic abuse within your relationship and the legalities of ending that relationship, please do contact Emma McMorrow of our family team.
For more information on domestic abuse or family-related issues, contact specialist Emma McMorrow for advice:
020 7129 7915 Email us
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