The consequences of domestic abuse are far reaching, impacting significantly on long-term health and emotional wellbeing of those affected. However, while the literature offers an insight into the scope and nature of domestic abuse among the younger population in the UK, there is currently little available data regarding older women and domestic violence. This is increasingly being recognised as a significant deficit in awareness and understanding within society as a whole and more particularly for those responsible for support and care provision. While research in this area may be scarce the work that has been undertaken to date would suggest that domestic abuse is both a significant and an under-recognised phenomenon, which has a wide-ranging impact on the lives and health of older women. It also suggests that older women's experiences of domestic abuse are markedly different from those in younger age groups and that these differences have not been adequately acknowledged or accounted for. Given that the UK has an ageing population and that emerging national policy initiatives are beginning to recognise domestic abuse as an issue for older women, it is fundamental that health and social care professionals are able to both identify domestic abuse and understand the particular experiences and needs of older women affected by domestic abuse. The aim of this literature review is threefold: (i) to provide a comprehensive summary of the impact of domestic abuse for older women particularly within the context of health, (ii) to explore the particular barriers to recognition and reporting abuse and (iii) to highlight the particular gaps in our knowledge and understanding from a policy and care provision perspective. A systematic approach to a review of the literature was used to identify key literature and available evidence relating to domestic abuse among older women.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.