A ‘tool kit’ leaflet for older people suffering in abusive relationships is being launched in the South West.

The Relationships Later in Life tool kit has been launched to help older people facing abuse as well as the professionals who help them.The Relationships Later in Life tool kit has been launched to help older people facing abuse as well as the professionals who help them.

The Relationships in Later Life tool kit is being released in Devon and the wider region to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today (Monday, June 15).

The easy to absorb guide is available on line or on request and has been developed by the South Devon Sexual Violence Domestic Violence and Abuse (SVDVA) Forum.

This came about working with independent charity and domestic abuse support provider, Splitz Support Service, and partnered with the South Devon and Dartmoor Community Safety Partnership, Devon Carers, Adult Social Care and Age UK Devon.

The aim of the resource is to help people in abusive and unhealthy relationships to recognise the abuse and to be aware of the options and choices that will improve their safety and well-being.

It will also be helpful for professionals who are assisting victims of this age group.

A quarter of victims over 60

According to Age UK’s analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales for 2017/18, one in four (23 per cent) victims of domestic homicides is over the age of 60.

In the South West, more than 15 per cent of all referrals to Splitz Support Service from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 were from people over the age of 50 (both male and female).

It is recognised that people later in life who are not in a happy or supportive relationship may find it more difficult to access support.

Crime prevention officer Kim Foster from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Perpetrators of domestic abuse seek to exert power and control over a partner or family member.

“They can be physically violent and/or force sexual acts but they can also be very subtle in their methods. They may take over the finances, use emotional and/or psychological manipulation, neglect, coercion or controlling behaviour.

“A large part of the problem with tackling abuse is that the victim often cannot recognise that they are being abused. This tool kit does vital work in helping victims to see their situations for what they are and offers practical steps to get them out of abusive situations.

“It is a valuable resource and I urge everyone to read it because it may help you to recognise a situation in your own family, circle of friends or even with your neighbours and the wider community. Once you can see the abuse, you can deal with it and this booklet talks through how to do so safely.”

More older people seeking support

Louisa Daley, community safety and safeguarding lead for South Hams and West Devon Councils and co-chair of the South Devon SVDVA Forum said: “We recognised the need to create the Later in Life Toolkit due to the increasing number of clients over the age of 50 seeking support that we were seeing as professionals across Devon.

“By bringing the collective experiences and expertise of many agencies together and by working in partnership, we have developed a resource that we are proud to share across our county.”

Alison Cockram, team manager for Splitz and co-chair of the South Devon SVDVA Forum added: “This toolkit was specifically designed to reach those later in life that find it difficult to access support to keep themselves safe.

“These situations can be made more difficult by Devon’s rurality. More recently, further isolation has affected many due to the COVID 19 restrictions.

“We would urge anyone who is feeling unsafe, whether due to a partner or other family member, to seek support. If this is particularly difficult then ask anyone that you trust to seek support on your behalf.”

* The tool kit is available to download from the Splitz website: https://www.splitz.org/resources/talk-toolkits.html. Alternatively, paper copies can be requested by emailing admin.devon@splitz.org .

* If you are being abused, or if you have any concerns that an older person you know may be at risk of or experiencing abuse, police have dedicated domestic abuse officers who will help and advise you. Call 101 for help and guidance or email 101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk. Always call 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively, call your local Victim Support Team in Devon and Cornwall on 0300 303 0554. Lines are open 12pm-6pm Monday to Friday.