Now, keep up to date
with daily feeds of newly posted stories
about America's Seniors...click on the box
Domestic Violence taken less seriously in
Newswise, May 4, 2011 — Do social workers,
police and others take domestic violence
among older people less seriously than they
do among younger couples? A recent survey
suggests that they might.
A sample of 242 college students in social
work and criminal justice examined three
similar scenarios for domestic abuse between
couples. In one, the pair was 75 years old.
In another they were 30. In the third, the
students were asked to imagine themselves as
the abused partner at age 75.
One of the findings was that only 26 percent
of those who imagined themselves as the
abused 75-yearold partner agreed that they
would know when to terminate the
relationship. By contrast, 44 percent said
that the 30-year old person who was being
abused should know when to leave.
They also said that 30-year-old couples were
more likely to engage in conflict and
violence than 75-year-old couples. More
respondents believed that the 30-year-old
person being abused was entitled to physical
defense compared to the same scenario with
the couples portrayed at 75-year olds.
“Overall the older characters in the first
scenario were perceived either to possess
fewer options or to be less entitled to a
situation change,” says Dr. Robin Jacobs, a
professor in the Department of Preventive
Medicine in the College of Osteopathic
Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in
Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She and Dr. Michael Kane and Dr. Diane
Green, of the School of Social Work at
Florida Atlantic University, published an
article about the study in January 2011 in
the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect.
“Domestic violence and intimate partner
abuse among older couples is frequently
unrecognized,” observes Nova Southeastern’s
Jacobs. “In cases where the suspected abuse
of an older person is perpetrated by a
spouse or intimate partner, it is rarely
labeled as domestic violence.”
“It is an ageist myth for students and
professionals to continue to believe that
all intimate relationships among older
persons are harmonious, respective, loving
and supportive,” she adds.
The study authors urge educators to be aware
of perception myths about older people among
those in training to become social workers
and other human services professionals.
“Raising awareness may help students to
identify the possibility of intimate partner
abuse when the bruises on the 70-year-old
face of Aunt Rose are not attributable to
being clumsy but are attributable to
72-year-old Uncle Frank,” they write.