Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Abuse and Neglect in Later Life: When and How Does Gender Matter? Jill Hightower, M.A.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Abuse and Neglect in Later Life: When and How Does Gender Matter? Jill Hightower, M.A."— Presentation transcript:

1 Abuse and Neglect in Later Life: When and How Does Gender Matter? Jill Hightower, M.A.

2 2 Abuse and Neglect in Later Life: When and How Does Gender Matter?

3 3

4 4 “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, When I'm sixty-four?” John Lennon and Paul McCartney,1967 Life expectancy at birth in 1940, assuming 1940 male death rates:Age 57.3 Life expectancy of men living to age 64, assuming 1967 death rates: Age 77.0 (Source: Life Table data for England and Wales, from

5 5 Definition: Ageism Robert Butler, the first director of the US National Institute on Aging, coined the term “ageism” in 1969. He likened it to other forms of bigotry, racism and sexism, and defined it as a process of systematic stereotyping and discrimination against people because they are old. Today, it is more broadly defined as any prejudice or discrimination against or in favour of an age group (Palmore, 1990).

6 6 Ageism Ageist attitudes have an impact across society at many levels. When the over- riding image of old age is someone frail and dependent, the impact on older peoples lives can be devastating. When abuse in later life is viewed as a result of ageing, legislation, public policy and practices focus on dependency and frailty.That can have as serious an impact on older adults’ lives as their abuse.

7 7 “You've come a long way baby, to get where you've got to today. You've got your own cigarette now baby, You've come a long, long way.”

8 8 Gender Refers to socially constructed differences between the sexes and to the social relationships between women and men. Differs across cultures, changes over time Women's and men's responsibilities and roles are socially determined. How we are perceived and how we are expected to think and act as women or men is a function of gender, not because of biological differences because of the cultural norms in society.

9 9 Definition: Elder Abuse Elder Abuse is defined as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. (Action on Elder Abuse, quoted by WHO/INPEA 2002)

10 10 Definition: Violence Against Women Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. (United Nations 1993)

11 11 Gender Violence Throughout a Woman’s Life Phase Prenatal Infant Child Type of Violence Sex-selective abortion, battering while pregnant, rape of mother, coerced pregnancy. Female infanticide, emotional and physical abuse, differential access to food and medical care. Genital mutilation; incest and sexual abuse; differential access to food, medical care, and education; child prostitution. Source: Adapted from Heise,, 1994, Violence Against Women: The Hidden Health Burden. World Bank Discussion Paper

12 12 Gender Violence... continued Phase Adoles- cent Child- bearing Old Age Type of Violence Dating and courtship violence, economically coerced sex, rape, sexual harassment, forced prostitution Abuse of women by intimate partners, marital rape, dowry abuse, spousal homicide, psychological abuse, sexual harassment, rape, abuse of women with disabilities Physical, sexual, psychological, and financial abuse by intimate partners, adult children, and grandchildren.

13 13 Violence and abuse happens across the lifespan, and yet we have created silos; child abuse, woman abuse, elder abuse. In creating these silos, we have not only worked separately from our colleagues in other areas, but we have also put people into “boxes” – they experience either elder abuse or domestic violence. Judit Alcalde, 2006

14 14 Early Parallels Elder Abuse: Was first identified and described in British scientific journals, by Baker in 1975 and Burston in 1977, and initially called “Granny Bashing” Domestic Violence: Described by Erin Pizzey in 1974, in her ground-breaking book Scream Quietly or The Neighbours Will Hear

15 15 Hearing the Voices of Older Victims We need to recognise and validate the experiences of women who have survived a lifetime of violence. We need to resist the assumption inherent in the term ‘elder abuse’, that violence is something that happens only when you get older.

16 16 Legislation and Public Policy Sexual assault and domestic violence are crimes and human rights abuses, whatever the age of the victim. Treating these crimes as elder abuse when they are perpetrated against older persons inadequately signifies the criminal and harmful behaviours of perpetrators, and usually masks the gendered nature of particular forms of violence perpetrated against older women. (adapted from Olle 2005)

17 17 Legislation and Public Policy If criminal offenses such as assault, rape or theft are redefined as physical, sexual and financial abuse, they are removed from the criminal justice system. To label such criminal acts as “abuse” both detracts from the criminality of the perpetrator and degrades the experience of the victim. (adapted from Kinnear & Graycar 1999)

18 18 A final word We older women are a heterogeneous group. While age and gender are the primary issues in addressing abuse in later life, ethnicity, socio-economic status, race, religion, ability and gender-orientation are among the factors affecting in important ways how a woman defines herself and how she seeks help. When working to help an older person we must acknowledge and respect these attributes along with age and gender.

19 19 Contact Information Jill Hightower 604.885.7755

Download ppt "Abuse and Neglect in Later Life: When and How Does Gender Matter? Jill Hightower, M.A."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google