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Only 41 days before the start of DVAM 2017...

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Building Strong Support for LGBT Older Adults (June 15, 2017)

by Ivonne Ortiz, Training & Education Specialist forNational Resource Center on Domestic Violence

"On this Day, I call upon Member States and civil society to strengthen their resolve and redouble their efforts to eliminate all forms of violence and abuse against older people." - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is recognized annually on June 15th. Since its inception in  2006, communities throughout the country and around the world have used this day to increase the visibility of elder abuse by raising awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation in later life and promoting the resources and services that work to increase victim safety and improve offender accountability.

The U.S. Administration on Aging estimates that as many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year. The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study suggests that elder abuse is significantly under-identified and under-reported, and that as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.


What is Elder Abuse?

Although definitions of elder abuse vary, the term generally refers to any physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, or financial exploitation of an older person either within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and/or when an older person is targeted based on age or disability. (U.S. DOJ, 2013)


Like other forms of interpersonal violence, victims of elder abuse may be reluctant to report the abuse due to:

  •  •  Feeling ashamed and embarrassed, particularly if a family member is the abuser.
  •  •  Being afraid that the abuser will get in trouble.
  •  •  Worrying that they will be forced to live in a nursing home—and this sometimes happens.
  •  •  Feeling guilty or somehow to blame.
  •  •  Being in denial that the abuse is occurring, or unaware that what they are experiencing is abuse or neglect.
  •  •  Being afraid that if they report, the abuse will get worse.
  •  •  Some victims are unable to speak out due to dementia or other impairments, or are not believed when they do.


Listen to a Discussion of the Dynamics of Abuse in Later Life

Advocates are encouraged to listen to this 30-minute BlogTalkRadio session, recorded in 2011 for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This segment discusses the “silver tsunami,” the impact of aging on our society, ageism, and how community-based programs can work together to prevent and respond to abuse and neglect in later life. Listeners will hear from experts at the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life, the University of California Irvine Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, with support being provided by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.ce on Elder Abuse & Neglect and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, with support being provided by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.


Elder Abuse in the LGBT Community

Elder abuse is a tragedy that impacts older adults of all races, cultures, sexual orientations, social classes, geographic areas, faith communities, mental capacities, and physical abilities. Older adults that identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) can experience abuse in unique ways.

The report Improving The Lives of LBGT Older Adults highlights the many obstacles this community encounters including discrimination, social stigma and prejudice. In some cases, the fear and social stigma has altered their lives, family relationships, income, and access to life saving services. The impact of enduring this oppression across the lifespan can put LGBT older adults at greater risk of physical and mental abuse, in addition to other conditions that can include:

  •  •  Social isolation
  •  •  Depression and anxiety
  •  •  Chronic diseases
  •  •  Delays in the search for medical care
  •  •  Poor nutrition

While older LGBT people may be at increased risk for abuse, research suggests that, compared to older heterosexuals, they are also less likely to access geriatric services and providers, nursing homes, food programs and others, because they fear being discriminated against or harassed if the service provider came to know their sexual orientation or gender identity (Croghan, Moone & Olson, 2015). LGBT seniors may be reluctant to access geriatric agencies and services, and only seek medical help in an emergency.

Creating Welcoming & Inclusive Services

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (NRC) is the country's first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender older adults. If your organization is interested in providing services to LGBT older adults, but are unsure about how to best serve and support them, the NRC suggests the following practice strategies in their guide Inclusive Services for LGBT Older Adults:

Knowledge is key to inclusion. The special challenges facing many LGBT older adults must be kept in mind and adequately addressed when designing and providing services to the aging.

Terminology makes a difference. To create a welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBT older adults, staff should begin by using inclusive terms, phrases, and language that do not presume a sexual orientation, gender identity, or relationship status.

Good first impressions demonstrate inclusion. As a group of people who have been historically marginalized, LGBT older people have a tendency to “scan the room” when they enter a new facility, looking for visible signs that it is welcoming.

Set the tone through programming. Maximize your agency’s inclusiveness by giving LGBT survivors a physical gathering space where they can share common experiences.

Gender affirmation is vital. Ask survivors their preferred gender pronouns (i.e., “she/her” rather than “he/him”).

Lasting change starts with everyone. Agencies should reinforce their commitment to diversity by continually training staff and volunteers about the agency’s commitment to inclusion and welcoming all survivors, regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, race, ethnicity, disability, and more.

Additionally, the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) is committed to creating a world that respects the dignity of older victims and survivors of abuse. They offer a variety of resources to support professionals in building individual and program capacity to provide helpful, welcoming services to older survivors.

Training all staff on how to identify and address the needs of LGBT older adults is key to making an agency more inclusive. Staff members should participate in training programs with survivors and trusted trainers who will enhance knowledge and skills about LGBT older adults and their intersecting identities of race, ethnicity, and culture.

Learn More:


Silver Pain: Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

This NRCDV radio podcast production was recorded in commemoration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2017. NRCDV is proud to join efforts with the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life(NCALL) to highlight the release of their Abuse in Later Life Education Series for Advocates. These 30-minute modules were specifically designed with domestic and sexual abuse victim service programs in mind, and include videos, handouts, and links to additional resources that can support program in response to abuse in later life. Click here to access the recording.


#TeenDVMonth 2017: The Power of Youth Activism

Young people have the power to change our world. They can; they will; they do. Youth activism has propelled social justice movements throughout history, and today we are seeing youth taking on more issues than ever, employing a variety of creative strategies to accomplish real change.



Awareness + Action = Social Change: How a bold and courageous social justice approach can help heal and re-energize our movement

This October, the Domestic Violence Awareness Project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) is building upon conversations from 2015 around Awareness + Action = Social Change by offering key awareness activities and action steps for propelling us forward together.



Let’s Talk About Elder Abuse: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15, 2016

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was established by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations on June 15, 2006. WEAAD’s goal is to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.




Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month 2016: Empowered Youth on the Margins

This February, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence is committed to bringing the experiences and needs of teens from marginalized communities to the forefront and lifting up the amazing social justice work of youth leaders on the margins. These young people (namely, Native youth, immigrants and teens in communities of color, teens with disabilities, teens who identify as LGBTQ, teens who are low-income, runaway or homeless, among others) have unique experiences and their voices are critical to any meaningful conversation about preventing and responding to dating violence and to our overall goal of creating safe and healthy communities.



Awareness + Action = Social Change: Why racial justice matters in the prevention equation

En español: Conocimiento Social + Acción = Cambio Social: Por qué es importante incluir la justicia racial como parte de la ecuación de prevención (Casa de Esperanza)

Domestic violence is preventable! This October, the Domestic Violence Awareness Project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence seeks to foster healthy families and communities by encouraging all of us to be part of the equation Awareness + Action = Social Change. This concept originated from the Transforming Communities: Technical Assistance, Training, and Resource Center (TC-TAT), providing leadership in prevention since 1997. Awareness + Action = Social Change is a framework that offers an opportunity to engage in critical conversations about what Action looks like.



Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 2015: Promoting Youth Leadership

During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and throughout the year, it is important to highlight the role that youth leadership has played as an effective strategy in the prevention of teen dating abuse. Research shows that young people are disproportionately impacted by partner violence, with more than 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men experiencing some form of intimate partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age (CDC, 2011). When dealing with issues that directly affect their lives, it only makes sense that young people are meaningfully included in the planning and implementation of solutions. Teens, therefore, are best positioned to inform adults about the abuse that is impacting their lives and about effective strategies for promoting healthy relationships.



National Runaway Prevention Month 2014: Piecing it all Together

Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away every year (Hammer, Finkelhor & Sedlak, 2002). This figure is staggering, yet the problem seems invisible. When a youth runs away, the impact is felt throughout the entire community. Statistics from The National Runaway Safeline show that the majority (29%) of callers identify family dynamics (divorce, remarriage, step/blended families, problems with family rules, discipline, or problems with siblings) and abuse as the reason for their call. Often kids run away from home to remove themselves from an immediately painful situation, but they have no plans or resources for what to do next.



The Link between Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), several domestic violence shelter programs across the country will be observing National SAF-T Day, held annually on the first Saturday in October. This national event originated in 2010 as an opportunity for shelters to host a local dog walk or other community event to raise funds to start or sustain an on-site pet housing program and awareness regarding the co-occurrence between animal abuse and domestic violence.

Why is such an initiative so important? Advocates have learned that abusive partners often use the bond between victims and their companion animals to control, manipulate, and isolate their victims. Research indicates that 20 to 65% of domestic violence victims delay leaving a dangerous situation because they don’t know where to place or how to protect their pets. Some survivors return because they fear for the animals’ safety (NRCDV, 2014).



Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Logo

Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. It is also known that 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. In light of these alarming facts, every year during the month of February advocates join efforts to raise awareness about dating violence, highlight promising practices, and encourage communities to get involved.

There are many resources available to provide information and support to victims and assist service providers and communities to decrease the prevalence of dating violence among young people. Anyone can make this happen by raising awareness about the issue, saying something about abuse when you see it and organizing your community to make a difference. Take Action!



Universal Prayer2013 National Call of Unity

Did you miss the Call of Unity? A recording of the session can be heard via this link with messages from national leaders, survivors, and advocates, and the dual-voice spoken word poems of ClimbingPoeTREE. The 4th Annual National Call of Unity Summary (Storify) includes links to the inspiring resources that were shared including poetry, prayer, stories, and words of gratitude and hope. View and download the Universal Prayer for use at your October 2013 DVAM Events and beyond!




Focus on Elders for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – June 15th

Everyone knows and cares about an older person at some point in their lives; many of us throughout our entire lives—whether that person is a grandparent, an elderly parent, a mentor or coach, or an older person that has been influential to us in some way. Unfortunately, statistics show that one in ten people age 60 and older are victimized by elder abuse.

The Administration on Aging (AoA) defines elder abuse as any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Please read on (by clicking the link above) for ways to increase your awareness of this crime and determine ways you can be involved in preventing its occurrence.




National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Organized by the Office on Women’s Health, within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human ServicesNational Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, held annually on March 10th, seeks to raise awareness of the disease’s impact on women and girls, and empower people with the knowledge and tools to make a difference. Listed after the jump are several ways you can be a part of these efforts in your community, state, across the nation, and around the world!





Everyone is impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault either directly or indirectly, but many do not realize it. Now is the time to change that. Our goal this year is to teach men, youth, women — everyone within our communities — how to recognize domestic violence and offer support to speak openly about it.

This year we are joining others in saying NO MORE. Learn more below about the NO MORE CAMPAIGN and key International Public Awareness Campaigns addressing gender-based violence.




International Public Awareness Campaigns that Address Violence Against Women

Every year, UN Women: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women join with Say NO-UNiTE to End Violence Against Women to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. 16 Days of Activism begins on November 25 and continues through December 10 to raise awareness of this devastating issue that knows no bounds and to inspire action to end this pervasive human rights violation across the globe. Their website contains a global policy agenda, activist stories and videos demonstrating the work of their grantees, and 16 Ways to Say NO to Violence Against Women Action Steps.