1 in 10 older people who report domestic or sexual abuse in Northern Ireland are over the age of 55

With today being World Elder Awareness Day, Police are urging people to stand with them against elder abuse and to help in raising awareness of how to spot the signs.

Last year, police recorded 5,423 crimes from older people over the age of 55 related to domestic and sexual abuse. This makes up approximately 10% of all domestic and sexual reported crimes.

On average, older victims experience abuse for twice as long before seeking help as those aged under 61 and nearly half have a disability.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and victim-survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse are adults of all ages.

Like younger people, older people may be subjected to domestic abuse that is physical, sexual, emotional, or economic. Older people are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Being aware of the signs could help someone who is being abused or living in an abusive relationship get the help they need. There are lots of signs to look for:

  • Elderly people who have untreated injuries
  • Elderly people who appear to have poor hygiene
  • Elderly people who are malnourished
  • Elderly people who have unexplained fear
  • Elderly people who appear to become withdrawn
  • Elderly people who have made changes to their wills or assets
  • Valuable items disappearing that belong to the elderly person


Women’s Aid, Antrim Ballymena, Larne, Newtownabbey (ABCLN) CEO, Rosemary Magill said: “Older women may have been living with domestic abuse all their adult lives, in silence and invisible, or it can start in later years. Women’s Aid ABCLN’s ‘Older But No Safer’ project works with older women and communities to increase awareness about domestic abuse and provide greater protection for women aged 55 and over.”

“Older women tell us that they may be older, but they are no safer. Through this project we want them to know it’s never too late to get help.”

Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher said: “Unfortunately, abuse against the elderly happens here in Northern Ireland and is often unreported for many reasons. This may be the physical or mental ability of the victim, their dependency on the abuser for care and/or the fear of retaliation from the abuser.

“We hope that by raising awareness around spotting the signs of elder abuse will encourage and give people the confidence to report this crime. Elder abuse can be physical, psychological or financial. There are many signs that can be looked out for and is extremely important that the public are aware of how to spot these signs.

“Elderly people are often scared to speak up in fear of what will happen to them. Therefore, it is detrimental that we are their voice and we are looking out for those in our communities.

“We as a Police force are committed to preventing, deterring and detecting crimes against older people in our communities.”

If you are concerned about an older person welfare and have suspicions that they are suffering abuse please report to us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.