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Testing a Model of Domestic Abuse Against Elder Women and Perceived Barriers to Help-Seeking: Comparing Victim and Non-Victim Responses

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2009
118 pages
This study examined perceived barriers to help-seeking by female victims of domestic abuse ages 50 and over compared to the perceived barriers for women in the same age group who had not been victims of such abuse.
The analyses of the empirical model used in the study found that perceived barriers to help-seeking involve six factors that are present in distinctive ways based on the severity of abuse, race-ethnicity, relationship with the abuser, gender of the abuser, and age. The six factors are self-blame; secrecy; abuser behaviors; emotional gridlock (hopelessness, powerlessness, protection of family members and image); informal external responses; and formal system responses. Victims had a unique, less complex pattern of bivariate correlations coefficients among these six factors compared to nonvictims. Also, significantly more victims of minor abuse indicated they "did nothing" (74.1 percent) compared to victims of severe abuse (55.4 percent). Of the total sample, 18.7 percent reported severe abuse. Many of the agencies that would be key stakeholders in a local coordinated community response to domestic abuse of older individuals expressed strong interest in working toward the development of an initial draft plan for a coordinated community response to this category of domestic abuse. This study built on research previously conducted by the same research team, i.e., Domestic Violence Against Older Women. In that study, data were collected from 134 women in 21 focus groups. The current study designed the Perceived Barriers to Help-Seeking (PBHS) model that was empirically tested. Both studies were conducted in Miami-Dade County, FL, where ethnic diversity permitted testing the model's applicability to Hispanic, Black, and White non-Hispanic subsamples. 16 figures, 11 tables, and 37 references

Date Published: November 1, 2009