Aging & Disabilities

Domestic violence in later life and violence against people with disabilities is largely overlooked by the systems and service providers that should be helping them (e.g., aging, domestic violence, sexual assault, criminal justice and health and human services). This occurs for many reasons. For example, intervening agencies find it hard to believe that a frail elderly perpetrator can inflict harm. Some helping professions maintain a care-giver stress orientation, working to alleviate perpetrator stressors but doing nothing to address victim safety needs. And professionals who work from a family systems theory basis find it tremendously difficult to accept and incorporate a power and control explanation for abuse in the families with whom they work. Adult children are looked to by intervenors to remedy the situation, often further exacerbating it. Diverse perspectives among the domestic violence, aging and therapeutic communities have contributed to the lack of a cohesive and comprehensive network of services for older victims of domestic abuse and their abusers.

People with physical and/or cognitive limitations are uniquely vulnerable to domestic violence. Individuals who are dependent upon others for daily living, handling finances, or transportation are at greatest risk as this gives others a tremendous amount of control over the lives of these individuals. Some systems delineate certain physical acts (e.g., restraints, confinement, etc.) as warranted in order to control an individual. End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin (WCADV)'s Aging and Disabilities Program works to help community systems and services to identify elder and vulnerable adult victims of domestic violence, to appropriately discern domestic violence from other possible causes of an elder or a person with a disability's victimization, and appropriately offer support, intervention, and referral to treat victims and perpetrators.

Click to view all Resources on Abuse in Later Life           Click to view all Disabilities Resources

Selected Resources

Coalition Chronicles 29-2: Advocacy For Survivors of Abuse in Later Life

October 2010 Issue

Representing Survivors Experiencing Trauma and Other Mental Health Challenges: A Handbook for Attorneys

The handbook was created for the overall purpose of providing guidance to attorneys so that they can help survivors achieve their civil legal objectives when trauma or other mental health challenges are a potential factor in a case. co-authored by Mary Malefyt Seighman, Olga Trujillo, and Erika Sussman, on behalf of the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health and funded by the Office on Violence Against Women.
To access the handbook, go to: http://www.csaj.org/documents/407.pdf

AARP

AARP is a membership organization providing a variety of services and benefits to persons over 50. 

http://assets.aarp.org/aarp.org_/web/marketing/membership/membership1.htm?p=membership1.0.5.html 

Creating Safety by Asking What Makes People Vulnerable?

Whether a paid caregiver, support worker, family member, or domestic violence or sexual assault advocate, each of us individually and as a part of larger service organizations have a stake in creating safety for and with people with disabilities.

We can and must become aware of and respond differently to our new understanding of what makes people vulnerable.This guide is designed to guide us through this journey, so that the vulnerability inherent in the “culture of compliance” that we inadvertently maintain is replaced with creating and fostering safety in its most basic and impactful form for people with disabilities—through a “culture of assertiveness.” It’s time.

Disability Rights Wisconsin

Disability Rights Wisconsin is the state's protection and advocacy agency. DRW provides advocacy and legal services for persons with developmetnal disabilities, serious mental illness or physical/sensory disabilities. www.disabilityrightswi.org

National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA)

http://www.apsnetwork.org/ 

This site contains many resources to help you find the assistance, publications, data, information, and answers about elder abuse. 

Power & Control Wheel - Abuse of People with Developmental Disabilities by a Caregiver

A power and control wheel specifically designed with people with developmental disabilities in mind. The wheel lists many abusive behaviors as well as positive behaviors shown by caregivers. 

Safety Planning: A guide for individuals with cognitive disabilities

This guide offers suggestions to caring individuals willing to help persons with cognitive disabilities who are being abused. Persons with cognitive disabilities may not recognize that they are being abused, or are afraid to tell anyone. This booklet guides individuals to create a safety plan with the cognitively disabled person that fits his or her specific needs depending on their level of functioning. 

Victims/Survivors Who Use Service Animals

An Updated Background Paper and Sample Policy for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs.

This service animal background paper and the sample policy are designed to inform you about the legal and practical expectations when service animals are present within your agency and its programs. Learning about the legal requirements, developing your own service animal policy, and training staff to apply it consistently helps to alleviate potential liability issues -- for both illegal discrimination and presence of an animal on site.

This is not intended, nor should it be construed to provide specific legal advice, nor is it a comprehensive review of all aspects of the civil rights laws for people with disabilities who use service animals.