Intimate Partner Violence: Transforming the response to older victim-survivors in later life

Sarah Wydall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter seeks to highlight the ageism inherent in policy and practice responses to older victim-survivors of domestic abuse. It challenges the use of the term ‘elder abuse’ in cases where intimate partner violence (IPV) exists. The chapter argues that framing IPV under discourses associated with elder abuse serves to marginalise, leaving older victim-survivors largely unrepresented in the development of domestic abuse policy and service provision. Drawing on previous research globally and the longitudinal research findings of the Dewis Choice Initiative in Wales, the author suggests that widespread discriminatory practices have led to ‘welfarisation’. Welfarisation occurs where practitioners assume the help-seeking aspirations of older victim-survivors. Thus, practitioners, acting on behalf of older people, limit older people’s decision-making, their access to justice, curtailing their human rights and entitlements. The findings from Dewis Choice challenge some of the previous assumptions about IPV in later life, suggesting when older people are supported to make informed choices about help-seeking, in the majority of cases, they choose to leave the perpetrator. Furthermore, the feedback from the 89 victim-survivors who were supported by Dewis indicate that extrinsic vulnerabilities, such as inadequate service responses and policy provision are perceived to be the main barriers to help-seeking. In conclusion, whilst there are some signs of an increased awareness by policy-makers and practitioners for a more age-sensitive response to IPV in later life, a far more transformative response is required to address effectively the needs, rights and entitlements of older victim-survivors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Domestic Violence and Abuse
EditorsJohn Devaney, Caroline Bradbury Jones, Stephanie Holt, Rebecca J Macy, Carolina Øverlien
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780429331053
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2021


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