Happily ever after: the wish and promise of every marriage — the hopes and dreams of a beautiful future.  

For too many couples, it doesn’t happen that way. What is supposed to be love and caring becomes controlling, abusive, demeaning, threatening and dangerous. Nationally, one in four women and one in seven men experience abuse in their lifetime.

Older adults are typically not thought of as possible victims of domestic violence. However, in Arizona, 30% of victims of domestic-violence related deaths are over the age of 50. For an older victim, abuse can intensify existing health issues, injuries can be more severe and recovery time can be longer. In addition to feeling shame, many victims fear not being believed because of their age, and have no place to go. 

After a lifetime of isolation and no social support, older adults encounter unique barriers to escaping abuse. They can have medical issues, impairments to mobility, limited work and credit history, all of which make it especially challenging to identify resources that will help them as they seek safety and self-sufficiency. 

The Area Agency on Aging DOVES Program provides support and encouragement for late-life survivors of abuse to heal. Through a variety of services, DOVES offers individuals the education to understand what is happening in their lives and what options are available to meet their needs. 

Beginning with our mobile advocacy program, referrals can be made to one of our community support groups or our individual counseling service. In addition, our program provides case management, safety planning, court accompaniment and emotional support either by phone or in person. 

If someone has made the choice to leave an abusive situation, DOVES is here to provide support. Resources and information are available through our 24-hour senior help line at 602-264-HELP (4357).  

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we will be educating the community through presentations about domestic violence against older adults. Area Agency on Aging also participated in the 2019 Lighting Arizona Purple event on Oct. 1 at the Arizona State Capitol, and encourages the community to bring awareness to domestic violence by wearing purple on National Wear Purple Day on Oct. 24.

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, there is help and understanding available.  

Remember: Domestic violence does not respect age. JN


Mary Lynn Kasunic is the president and CEO of the Area Agency on Aging.

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