Abused victims are in the most danger when they decide to leave an abusive relationship. A July 10 Denver Post story tells of a demographic often not given a second thought when it comes to domestic violence. A 71-year-old woman sent a duress alarm from her office computer to her company’s corporate office one morning. She always arrived at work before business hours. The corporate security officer called her back and spoke in code, asking her how things were going in Colorado. The woman nervously replied she would have to get back to him.
Police arrived at her office 14 minutes later and found her dead, with a gunshot wound to the head.
The woman’s 71-year-old estranged husband was arrested the following night. The victim filed for divorce in 2008 after 45 years of marriage. Her estranged husband repeatedly threatened her and told people he wished she was dead. Domestic violence experts expect to see more cases like this as the population ages. In Colorado, the 65 and older population is expected to grow from 400,000 to 1.2 million by the year 2030.
The current resources available to domestic violence victims are not equipped to handle the special needs of older victims. Shelters may have stairs older victims can’t climb and tend to hire counselors half the older victim’s age. Domestic violence support groups mostly consist of women in their twenties and thirties.
Leaving may be harder for older victims because their abuse may be their caretaker and they’ve grown dependent. Older victims tend to have a harder time leaving a relationship they been in for decades. They may also feel a greater sense of isolation and feel more ashamed of their situation.
The system may not yet be adequately equipped to deal with older victims, but Colorado’s domestic violence laws are designed to protect victims of all ages. A Colorado domestic violence lawyer handling a case of this nature must be knowledgeable about the special needs of older domestic violence. Domestic violence hurts no matter how old you are.