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NCJ Number: 203212 Find in a Library
Title: Survival is Not Enough: Violence Against Older Women in Australia
Journal: Violence Against Women  Volume:9  Issue:12  Dated:December 2003  Pages:1478-1489
Author(s): Jane Mears
Date Published: December 2003
Page Count: 12
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After briefly describing some of the research on violence against older women in Australia that has been done to date, this article reports on the findings of a research project that focused on this issue.
Abstract: After some lobbying by older women, the federally funded Partnerships Against Domestic Violence program, which is intended to raise public awareness and knowledge about domestic violence across Australia, commissioned a study of domestic violence against older people. The researchers observed that "older people experienced a world where domestic violence was not widely recognized or talked about; they are now caught between two worlds -- the life experiences and norms borne of their era and current attitudes." The research that is the focus of this article was an action research project whose primary objective was to empower older women by enabling them to tell their stories of abuse, not only to experience empowerment thereby, but also to open to public discussion and scrutiny the largely private and hidden problem. Overall, approximately 250 women participated in seminar groups and interviews that provided a context for them to recount their experiences of abuse. This self-selected group of older women did not compose a representative sample of older women in Australia. Initially, it was anticipated that the women would tell stories about the violence they had experienced as older women, but it soon became clear they had been deeply affected by violence they had experienced as children and as younger women. It was important to the women that they be allowed to tell their full life stories of abuse. Still, the results confirm that violence in the home is a major problem for many older women. Most perpetrators were men, primarily partners, with some accounts including sons, brothers, and uncles. The violence was occasionally perpetrated by women family members. The effect of the violence on the women was significant and profound, and it did not recede over time. A common survival strategy was to block out the violence by attempting to repress its psychological effects. A constructive strategy was to channel energy into other activities, particularly paid work. For a significant number of women, coping and surviving did not involve leaving the abuser. Efforts to find help outside the home were typically unsuccessful. A strong theme that emerged was the desire for support from friends and family members, more than the desire for help from service providers. The women valued the experience of being able to talk about the painful experiences of abuse and what they need to cope with it. 13 references
Main Term(s): Elderly victim services
Index Term(s): Australia; Crime in foreign countries; Domestic assault; Elder Abuse
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