‘You had better be careful in your bed tonight’: shock rise in women killed by their sons

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The Dewis Choice Initiative, based at the Centre for Age Gender and Social Justice in Aberystwyth, has run one of the few longitudinal studies tracking how domestic abuse affects people aged over 60. It gives a glimpse of the scale of child to parent abuse. Surprisingly, since 2015, half of the 200 “victim-survivors” helped have been affected by adult family violence (AFV) – in 44% of cases the perpetrator was a son; in 14% of cases, it was a grandson and in the remaining 42%, other family members. Two-thirds of those affected by AFV were aged 74 and older; dementia was a feature in a fifth of cases and half have a disability. “We are witnessing the tip of the iceberg,” says the centre’s director, Sarah Wydall. “It’s a myth that women choose to stay in a potentially dangerous situation. Where they are in a position to make informed choices about their rights and entitlements and are properly supported, they do restore their freedom and social networks.” “What isn’t considered is that in later life, for instance, for a 93-year-old, what might not look like a high level of violence has a much bigger impact,” says Dewis’s Elize Freeman. “A shove can be life threatening. “Coercive control legislation doesn’t even consider adult family violence. It’s not easy to remove an adult child from your home. You have to live with a son while you are trying to make him homeless and that escalates the risk. There’s a massive chasm where adult safeguarding is concerned.”

Period15 Jan 2023

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • Title ‘You had better be careful in your bed tonight’: shock rise in women killed by their sons
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletGuardian
    Media typePrint
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
    Date15 Jan 2023
    PersonsSarah Wydall, Elize Freeman