Domestic violence and mental health in older adults

Lucy Knight, Marianne Hester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)
4028 Downloads (Pure)


The link between mental health and domestic violence is clearly established in working age adults, but the literature on adults over the age of 65 is patchy. Assumptions are made about older adults within this field that need to be explored. We examined the literature in this area, and established that prevalence figures are variable but the likely lifetime prevalence for women over the age of 65 is between 20 and 30%. Rates of emotional abuse appear to be stable over the lifespan, but physical abuse decreases with age.

There is a strong association between being a victim of domestic violence and experiencing increased rates of mental and physical health problems in older adults. The scarce research comparing the impact of domestic violence across the age cohorts suggests that the physical health of older victims may be more severely affected than younger victims.

There is evidence that older victims may experience less psychological distress in response to domestic violence than younger victims. Identification of couples experiencing domestic violence is poor in the over 65’s and there are very limited options for onwards referral after identification. Internationally the management of domestic violence in older adults is sparse and lacks cohesiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-474
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
Issue number5
Early online date25 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2016

Structured keywords

  • Gender Research Group


  • Domestic Violence
  • Mental Health
  • Older People
  • Dementia


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