Elderly Battered Wives – The 5 Key
Concerns Troubling Older Abused Women
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
If you think being battered as a young adult is complicated, image the same set of dynamics superimposed on an aging body and compromised health. I liken it to child abuse without the freedom of a potential future beyond being abused.
Most of the help in spousal abuse is directed to the young and middle-aged. But that doesn’t mean the concerns of battered women 55 plus is inconsequential. To the contrary...with each passing decade, the imprisonment intensifies.
Here are five key concerns troubling this underserved population of battered wives.
1) Lack of Real and Perceived Options Beyond Being Abused
Older abused women truly have fewer options than their younger counterparts. Planning and even imagining starting over in your 60’s and 70’s is much different than it is for individuals in their 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s. Differentiating oneself from a batterer and creating independence can pose losses for the elderly that paralyze them in taking chances to end the domestic abuse.
2) Lack of Community and Professional Resources
Shelter services that support young adults don’t readily have resources vital to accommodating older women. And even more disturbing than this is the lack of domestic abuse intervention programs in professional circles. More often than not, the domestic abuse dynamics get swept further under the carpet, leaving elderly battered women to “accept” their circumstances.
3) Financial Dependence or Estate Rape
The economics for the elderly can be the root source of the couple’s attachment. One may see the other as their only “viable” meal ticket. In the case of financial dependence either the victim or the perpetrator can be attached to their partner because they know that person is the roof over their head. Whereas in estate rape, perpetrators can have an additional agenda of emptying their victim’s estate while funding their own nest egg.
4) Disabilities and Physical Dependence
With each passing decade, domestic abuse victims can require more and more day-to-day assistance with routine daily care. And with such, their reliance on their abusive partner deepens.
We laugh when we hear of younger women thinking to themselves that they “need” this person who abuses them. In the elderly this “need” is very real. The abuser, in many cases, is an essential part of the elderly woman’s lifeline to daily care. Their abuser can be the only reason they are able to “enjoy” “independent living.”
5) Social Resignation from Loved Ones
It is common knowledge that isolation goes hand-in-hand with intimate partner abuse. In elderly couples the estranged family members perceive themselves as having fewer options and obligations to reach into the abusive relationship for the purpose of aiding in breaking the cycle of spousal abuse.
If you are 55 plus and experiencing spousal abuse, be mindful of the issues facing battered women over the lifetime of their abusive relationship. The more you know today, the better equipped you will be to help yourself in the years ahead.
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Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.