The awareness day, which is held annually on 15 June, is an opportunity to recognise that more than 500,000 older people in the UK experience domestic abuse, and cases amongst those aged over 65 in Somerset are rising too.
Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, sexuality or religion – and help is available to anybody experiencing it. The right to support does not go away with age and it is never too late to get help.
Older people are especially vulnerable to domestic abuse, and they are sometimes not aware that help is available. Anxiety and long-term health conditions can be considerable obstacles to stepping forward for help, and sometimes spotting and confronting abuse in older people can be difficult.
The Council has had a long running campaign, #NoClosedDoorsEver which encourages people to seek help if they are, or think they know someone, who is experiencing this kind of abuse.
Elder abuse can take many forms including neglect or physical, phycological, emotional, economic, online or sexual abuse. It is also believed that abuse of seniors is still significantly under reported, despite the recent rise. Tragically, many will suffer in silence, behind closed doors, in shame, fear or embarrassment.
Councillor Adam Dance, Somerset County Council’s Executive Officer responsible for health and wellbeing, said: “Social isolation has been identified as one of the leading contributors to an increase in elder abuse, this has been exacerbated by the restrictions caused by Covid over the last couple of years – which have made people further isolated.
“We would like to reassure everyone help is, and will continue to be, available for those experiencing domestic abuse – whatever their age. Everyone should have the opportunity to lead a happy, healthy and safe life free from abuse. I urge anyone who is living with abuse in their lives to get help and advice.”
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, worried about someone you know, or are concerned about the impact of your behaviour towards others, then help is available: www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk or by telephoning 0800 69 49 999.
In an emergency you should always dial 999. If you are worried that an abuser may overhear your call you can remain silent, tap the phone and dial 55 when prompted by the operator who will send help.
If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired you can register with emergencySMS.net. Once registered you will be able to send a text to 999 if you require help in an emergency.