I work with many young women who have suffered domestic abuse. By the time they find their way to me they want to move on with their lives.
But they often do not know how to do this.
Note the word young. Yet domestic abuse against women does not stop as they grow older,
It just gets less visible.
Many women who suffer abuse in their middle-late years have experienced domestic violence throughout a relationship lasting into their later years. A range of behaviours are involved: financial, emotional, physical and sexual.
When abusive relationships last for a long time, it only adds to the issues that make it difficult for the women to leave. Older women may not have the financial security to leave.
The shame of experiencing abuse is often deeply embedded. Many women blame themselves for not being a good enough wife or a good enough mother. They may be reluctant to leave a home they have invested in both financially and emotionally. Older women as grandmothers often do not want to let their children down or fear never seeing their grandchildren again if the abuse is revealed.
Older women are less likely to report violence and more likely to need to a range of service including long term counselling, help with drink and drugs and assistance with money.
What I have learnt from my clients of all ages who have experienced domestic abuse is once they have felt able to disclose the abuse and it's effects they often find they can confide in others. They gradually build themselves a network of support.
Domestic abuse thrives on isolation. So finding someone to talk to is the first important step in ending the abuse for good.