United Against Elder Abuse

June 4, 2015

Courtesy of Principal Deputy Director Bea Hanson of the Office on Violence Against Women

As many of us are preparing for the end of school and summer vacation, communities across the world are gearing up to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15. WEAAD was launched in 2006, to shine a spotlight on the abuse and neglect experienced by millions of older adults that is too often overlooked or unreported. On this day, we have the opportunity to increase awareness about abuse in later life, learn what to do if we suspect abuse or neglect, and stand united against elder abuse.

The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) remains committed to raising awareness about abuse in later life.  Since 2006, 77 communities have received funding through OVW’s Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life Program. The Abuse in Later Life Program has made it possible for thousands of law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, victim service providers, and other professionals who work with older victims to receive vital training to on how to recognize and address elder abuse.  

On April 22 – 23, 2015, OVW and the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) convened a roundtable with national leaders and subject matter experts to talk about ways to improve the criminal justice and victim services responses to elder abuse. Based on this roundtable, OVW is working with NCALL to identify enhanced training opportunities and resources for criminal justice professionals and develop guiding principles, standards and practice guidelines on effectively serving older victims/survivors of abuse for both domestic violence and sexual assault programs and aging services organizations.

As the percentage of Americans over the age of 50 continues to grow, the number of older adults experiencing abuse in later life is also increasing. We encourage you to get involved in local WEAAD events because you can make a difference. Here are some ideas:

  • Take advantage of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to highlight domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in later life in your community

  • Use the phrase “victims across the lifespan” to promote recognition of older victims in written materials

  • Include images of older adults in brochures, posters and presentations

  • Include examples of abuse in later life in educational events

  • Conduct outreach where older adults gather

  • Highlight older victims during domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking awareness months

  • Work collaboratively with experts in aging network services and elder abuse

Information and resources on elder abuse is available through the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL), U.S. Department of Justice Elder Justice Website and the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).  Additional information on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day can be found on the Administration for Community Living website.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, neglect, or exploitation visit, U.S. Department of Justice Elder Justice Website,  NCEA’s State Resources webpage or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). 

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Updated June 4, 2015