Throughout Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we mourn the loss of victims of domestic violence, support the resiliency of survivors, and spread the message that healthy relationships are not violent. At the Administration for Community Living (ACL), our mission is to promote individuals’ independence, health, and wellbeing through our programs for older adults and persons with disabilities—and the right to live free from violence is a central tenet of that mission.
Too often, the national conversation about abuse centers on younger people who do not have disabilities. However, we know from working with the programs ACL supports (including several at the bottom of this page), as well as data from the CDC and others, that age is no protection from violence, and people with disabilities are more likely to face violence from an intimate partner than those without disabilities. In fact, women with disabilities are more than three times as likely to experience sexual abuse from an intimate partner, and men with a disability are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse from their partners, than women and men without a disability. In addition, one in five older adults who are abused by an intimate partner are abused by both an intimate partner and another person they trust—such as an adult child or grandchild.
And, although there is some evidence that older adults may be less likely to come forward and seek help for abuse, in 2017, domestic violence shelters and programs funded by the HHS Family Violence Prevention and Services Program reported seeing at least 42,589 survivors over the age of 60—an 8 percent increase from 2016.
These statistics shed light on the persistence of abuse across the lifespan, and remind us that survivors come in all ages and abilities. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is coming to a close, but our commitment to working toward a future where all people, including older adults and people with disabilities, live life free from abuse, continues. We also are committed to working with our partners throughout the federal government and in the aging and disability networks to support accessible, inclusive services for anyone seeking safety from an unhealthy relationship.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing violence or abuse from a partner, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, at 1-800-799-7233 and 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).