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Gender, Protection Orders, and Intimate Partner Violence in Later Life: A Study of Protective Order Filings in Arizona

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Dated: 2019
Date Published

This article addresses a gap in the current literature on elder abuse by addressing how older survivors of intimate partner violence use the legal system as a tool to achieve safety by filing for a civil protection order.


Most analyses of domestic violence and older adults focus on abuse by children and non-intimate caregivers; however, a significant percentage of elder abuse is perpetrated by an intimate partner. The current study critically examined 607 Arizona protection-order filings in 2015, comparing those petitions filed by adults 50 and older (n = 83) with those younger than 50 (n = 524). The analysis found significant differences in the forms of violence described in the protection order petition, as well as the types of relationships between the petitioner and respondent, the likelihood that an order will be issued, and the provisions requested and granted. Most importantly, gender is a critical component of the analysis; older petitioners were far more likely to be men than younger petitioners, and both petitions and outcomes were different for older men than for older women. These results are discussed in the context of the dynamics of older relationships, current firearm laws, and the barriers older adults face when attempting to use resources intended to help survivors achieve safety. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019