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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Plea for domestic abuse victims
Helpline worker
Services do not do enough for older battered women, experts argue
Experts say there should be more help for older women who are victims of abuse in the home.

Out of 25,000 domestic violence attacks analysed by Edinburgh University researchers, nearly a quarter involved women over the age of 41.

However, they found that most services for victims of such violence focused on people under 50.

They argue older women tend not to report violence, and therefore the true number of victims could be far higher.

Experts say the number of over 40s reporting cases of domestic violence are "likely to be just the tip of the iceberg", and some have suffered for more than four decades.

One victim said: "I was married at 16 but I met him at 15. And from the beginning, there was violence and the power - you're just ruled by fear.

You just get on with it. And for 39 years I got on with it."
Domestic abuse victim

"All the way through you ask for help, but you don't actually stand there and say will you help me, my husband beats me up."

She added: "You just get on with it. And for 39 years I got on with it."

Researcher Marsha Scott insisted that public and service providers often saw domestic violence as a problem that affects younger women only.

She added: "Current services provide few choices appropriate for older women."

"We need to start recognising the needs of all older women and providing them with the support and safety they have a right to expect.

"Services may have to be delivered in different ways by people who see beyond the stereotypes surrounding older women in our society."

New guidance

The first national training strategy on domestic abuse was launched earlier this year in Scotland.

The details, backed by 2m funding, were outlined in March by Communities Minister Margaret Curran.

Scottish Women's Aid estimate that more than 100,000 children live with domestic abuse.

Last year, new guidance was issued to Scotland's prosecutors aiming to increase the level of communication with the victims of domestic abuse.

It followed a review of the way such cases were dealt with by the Crown Office and procurator fiscal service.

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