Domestic abuse and older peopleFactors influencing help-seeking

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-260
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Adult Protection
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 09 Oct 2017
EventCoercive Control and Older People - Welsh Women's Aid, Cardiff, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Duration: 27 Jul 201727 Aug 2017
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore practitioners’ perceptions of the barriers to help-seeking for victim-survivors of domestic abuse aged 60 years and over. Help-seeking as defined by Anderson and Saunders (2003) is not a single act or decision, but a complex and continuous process victims engage in when seeking support.

Design/methodology/approach – Fifty qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with statutory practitioners and managers from twenty-one out of twenty-two local authorities in Wales. The research team worked collaboratively to produce a coding scheme which was subjected to a systematic coding exercise using the software package NVivo.

Findings – Professionals believed that older people’s ‘interconnectedness’ with family, social embeddedness in the community and ‘meanings of the home’ influenced help-seeking. The research suggests that for older victim-survivors of domestic abuse, discrimination on account of age by practitioners, considerably compounds older people’s experiences of help-seeking, restricting the range, quality and type of support provided. The paper demonstrates a significant shift is required in practice to ensure older people are in a position to make informed choices and their wishes are central in the decision-making process.

Research limitations/implications – Further qualitative research is needed to explore what older people themselves believe are the factors that impact on service engagement.

Originality/value – This study is the first in the United Kingdom to conduct Pan-Wales research on help-seeking behaviours of older people. One of the key findings from the study suggests that connections to the home and social ties strongly influence help-seeking for older victim-survivors of domestic abuse.

Key words: domestic abuse, older people, help-seeking, family, meanings of the home, social networks.


  • domestic abuse, older people, help-seeking, interconnectedness, meanings of the home , social ties