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Information for DV and SA Programs

Traditionally domestic violence and sexual assault programs have not served many victims age 50 and older.  Domestic violence and sexual assault programs were generally designed for younger victims.  Many older women will not consider calling a hotline to talk to a stranger about personal, private family matters.  Older women may be uncomfortable working with young staff and want to talk to someone their own age.  They may be concerned staying in shelter where they may be expected to a share bedroom and common space with young families, especially if they have health issues. 

Domestic violence and sexual assault programs have a responsibility to ensure that their programs are responsive to the needs of victims of all ages.  As the baby boomers age and the number of older Americans increases, domestic violence and sexual assault programs must be prepared to respond to the increasing need for services from older adults.  To respond effectively, services may need to be tailored or adapted.  Older persons may need to be hired as volunteers, staff, and board members.  Accommodations may need to be made to make building more accessible.  Policies and protocols may need to be revised.

This section provides some information to assist advocates in creating or enhancing their services to meet the needs of older survivors.  Advocates may be mandatory reporters.  Questions to ask and considerations to discuss as a staff can be found in the materials in the mandatory reporting section.  Advocates may also want to work with partners, such as faith leaders, to reach out to older adults.  The Safe Havens/NCALL toolkit provides tips and materials for advocates who are interested in working with their faith community.  To improve accessibility, programs may want to conduct a self assessment of their program using tools such as those created by Disability Rights of Wisconsin or visit some of the website listed on the Access to Services page.