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6 March 2007
Partner Violence Against Older Women Underestimated

Intimate partner violence isn't just a problem for younger women, with a new study showing that 25 percent of women over 65 have been victims of physical, sexual or psychological violence. Study author, Amy Bonomi, from Ohio State University, said that the new study was one of only a handful to focus solely on the depth and breadth of violence perpetrated by intimate partners against older women.

Appearing in The Gerontologist, the results showed that 26 percent of the women surveyed reported violence by an intimate partner over their lifetimes. Of those who reported abuse, most were the victims of multiple types. "It was very rare that women experienced only one type of violence," Bonomi said. "Over half experienced two or more types of violence. That's troubling."

Perhaps more troubling is the fact that in spite of the widespread violence directed against this group of women, only 3 percent said they had been asked by a health care provider about physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner since age 18. "Not enough doctors and other health care professionals are screening women for intimate partner abuse," Bonomi said.

Incredibly, Bonomi believes that estimates of violence in the study are probably an underestimate of how much actually occurred. She speculates that there may be a tendency for women to downplay violent experiences early in life. "This underscores the need to pay attention to the issue of intimate partner violence in health care settings," she concluded.

Related articles:
Intimate Partner Violence: The Silent Epidemic
Heavy-Handed Husbands Lead To Tough Custody Choices For Women
Older Women And Alcohol: Out of Mind And Out of Sight

Source: Ohio State University

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