Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse in Later Life Post Launch

Launch event for our new funding

We spent a wonderful afternoon at The Angel Hotel in Cardiff with friends who have shared on our journey so far and hopefully will continue to travel with us as we progress into our new stage of development. The event gave us the opportunity to share findings to date and our plans for the future, as well as premiering our LGB film and Practitioners Guidance.

Post launch review by Freya Salisbury, Student Volunteer.

An insightful day into the sharing of Dewis Choice’s research findings on the five year longitudinal study capturing the lived experiences of older victim-survivors and the subsequent steps being taken to embed the research across the UK.
Firstly, an introduction from the Principal Investigator Sarah Wydall with a brief overview of the Dewis Choice project, what it aims to achieve and how it originated “all good things start over a cup of coffee” as Sarah rightly said. A mention of the Dewis Choice team including two of the younger volunteers who travelled to join us on the day. Also thanks to the team in preparation for the big day and the many late nights that occurred! Followed by introducing the first copy of the Practitioner Guidance drawn from the 5-year longitudinal study.
We were delighted to be joined by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Helena Herklots who informed us of her bold and brilliant ambition to make Wales the leading country on changing the perspective on older people. Her main three priorities as the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales are to stop age discrimination, to stop elder abuse and to allow us to age well. The ambitions for the next year are to enable and empower people to tell their story. This is both to help themselves a nd to help move forward with the issue of elder abuse and to have necessary actions in place.
Helena shared a quote with us “don’t judge my story on the chapter you walked in on” which really relates to the experiences older people may have in later life and how to not judge them but provide the help they not only need but deserve.
The Dewis Choice team, alongside the incredible producer and his film crew have worked together to make a short film on older LGB victim-survivor experiences on domestic abuse, which proved to be very empowering and elegantly shines a light into the darkness that a lot of people experience every day.
A question and answer session after the film led to many attendees excitedly asking when the two films would be made available to the public for training purposes however due to various factors it won’t be out for a few months yet.
The second film is currently being made on the views of Practitioners responding to the older LGBT+ victim-survivors of domestic abuse.
Then Rebecca Zerk, the Project manager of Dewis Choice discussed the barriers & enablers to help-seeking in later life. The older people are very underrepresented when it comes to being a victim of abuse and are less likely to report for a variety of reasons for example a lack of services or even the very narrow minded and inbuilt ageist perspective of organisations that older people aren’t abused and what’s happening is ‘behind closed doors’ and don’t go through the same things younger people do. Some of the key barriers Rebecca identified were fear for consequences of leaving their pet behind, isolating themselves from their family and friends and being wrong about the person they thought they could trust and the lack of knowledge about their rights as a human being.
Sarah then talked about the many research findings. They found that coercive control is just as common in family members as it is in partners and women are just as likely to be coercive as men. A key finding was that practitioners do not recognise domestic abuse in older life and that the practitioners think they know what is better for older people without considering their feelings or experiences. The Dewis Choice team have always done the opposite and strived to put the older person at the heart of the decision making.
Prof John Williams closed with his reflections on Dewis Choice, with an informative talk on human rights: “The work undertaken by Dewis Choice has shown that ageism continues to be significant problem. People who experience domestic abuse in later life can be denied some of their basic human rights. It is essential that older people are empowered to make informed decisions about what they want from the social care and health, the criminal and civil justices systems, and from society. Enabling older people to make informed choices free of pressure from abusers is key to ensuring that they regain control of their lives and that their well-being is protected and promoted. That is the ethos of Dewis Choice.”
Then the team explained the next steps in transforming the response widening to Scotland, Northern Ireland and England over the course of the next year.
The day concluded with John Rose the Director for Wales National Lottery Community Fund which contributed to the Dewis Choice project. John was delighted with the progress the Dewis Choice project has made since the funding and is optimistic about the future of the research.

For an insight into the event take a look at the presentations delivered by Sarah Wydall and Rebecca Zerk below. We hope it won’t be too long before we will be able to make the LGB film public for you to view and the practitioner guide should be available for release soon.

A copy of the presentation delivered by Sarah Wydall at Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse in Later Life launch event.

A copy of the presentation delivered by Rebecca Zerk at Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse in Later Life launch event.

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Centre For Age Gender and Social Justice