Conference shines a light on older victims of domestic abuse
OLDER victims of domestic abuse were the focus of a conference attended by Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston.
Safer Places – an independent charity which supports adults and children affected by domestic and sexual abuse in West Essex, Southend and parts of Hertfordshire – hosted the conference, which was part-funded by the PCC, on Monday September 8. It was held in the Council Chamber of Chelmsford City Council.
The conference aimed to highlight the large number of victims of domestic abuse who are over the age of 50 and in particular to improve the services and support available to them.
The event was attended by over 100 representatives from police, health professionals, social workers, police, care agencies, Women’s Aid organisations and various support groups for the elderly such as RVS and the Alzheimer’s Association. It aimed to help organisations establish how they can work better to identify victims, understand their needs and provide better support.
Nick Alston opened the conference with a passionate speech highlighting why the wider problem of domestic abuse in Essex is one of his main priorities and praising the work being done to support older victims of the harrowing crime.
He said: “Once every two months in Essex, someone is murdered in their own home by a family member. If that doesn’t give us real cause for deep concern and wanting to do better then what possibly can?
“Abuse involving older victims is an area of domestic abuse that can easily be overlooked and we need to work out how we reach those elderly victims we may not be reaching now.
“This conference is part of helping our understanding around that and I’m very grateful for everyone who has taken part.”
Janet Dalrymple of Safer Places, said: “About a quarter of older victims of domestic violence are abused by their adult children.
“For many their abuser, whether their partner or child, has mental health, substance misuse or physical health problems. Also for many older victims shame and the strong belief that these things should be kept private, as well as fear about what will happen if they do report what is happening to them, means they suffer in silence.”
Ruth Jones OBE, from the National Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence and Abuse at the University of Worcester, gave a key presentation on the need for more research to shed light on this still largely hidden topic.
Delegates at the conference also heard from a victim of domestic abuse as well as watching dramatic portrayals of victims’ experiences using actors. Workshops then drew on the experience of delegates to identify key issues for those commissioning services for the victims of Domestic Abuse to consider.