Older women living and coping with domestic violence

Anne Lazenbatt, John Devaney, Aideen Gildea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although domestic violence is seen as a serious public health issue for women worldwide, international evidence suggests that women aged over 50 who are victims are suffering in silence because the problem is often ignored by health professionals. More UK research is needed to identify the extent of the problem, and services to meet the needs of older women. This study aims to bridge this gap by gaining a deeper understanding of how ‘older women’ cope with domestic violence and how it affects their wellbeing. Eighteen older women who were currently, or had been in an abusive relationship were recruited. Semi-structured interview schedules were used to discuss the personal nature of DV and its effects on wellbeing, ways of coping and sources of support. Findings suggest that living in a domestically violent context has extremely negative effects on older women’s wellbeing leading to severe anxiety and depression. Three-quarters of the women defined themselves as in ‘very poor’ mental and physical health and were using pathogenic coping mechanisms, such as excessive and long-term use of alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs and cigarettes. This negative coping increased the likelihood of these women experiencing addiction to drugs and alcohol dependence and endangered their health in the longer term. Our findings suggest that health professionals must receive appropriate education to gain knowledge and skills in order to deal effectively and support older women experiencing domestic violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-32
Number of pages5
JournalCommunity Practitioner
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • older women
  • domestic violence
  • coping


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