You Are Not Alone: Domestic Violence and Abuse Late in Life More Common than You Think

By LaDAWN WHITESIDE, Abuse in Late Life Advocate for the Friendship Center — Helena

In the past three weeks, four known individuals over 50 years of age received services from The Friendship Center (TFC) in Helena, Montana. The Friendship Center serves victims (men and woman) of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and vulnerable person abuse, in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, and Broadwater counties.

Our mission at the TFC is to help individuals and families experiencing domestic and sexual violence gain access to community services and resources. We provide the assistance they need to resolve their crisis and begin to rebuild their lives.

If a family member or intimate partner is causing you to fear for your safety, withholding medications, care, or personal items in order to control you, or causing emotional or physical injury, know that TFC is available to help you. The Crisis Line 406-442-6800 is available 24 hours 7 days per week. Walk-in assistance is available between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In Montana, people depend on each other for support. We know that the rural nature of Montana makes reporting elder abuse difficult for the victim. It may be even more difficult to report an abuser if they are your caregiver, child, spouse, or friend. Limited access to phone or internet services, public transportation, shelters, emergency medical, or legal assistance causes additional barriers for reporting suspected abuse within very small towns.

Friends may not want to risk helping a friend for fear of becoming a target themselves.

People over 50 who are confined to their home may be at higher risk of elder abuse if they are isolated from the community.

Elders do not always have the financial resources necessary to protect themselves. Sometimes elders do not know who to contact for help and protection. Some elders are targeted by people who take advantage of them. One way that people can help protect themselves is by contacting agencies such as those listed below. Aging is natural, abuse is not. In an emergency, call or text 911. Free help is available at the following:

  • Adult Protective Services
    844-277-9300
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman
    844-277-9300
    Providing free advocacy for people who live in a Nursing Home or an Assisted Living Facility
  • Montana Legal Services Association
    800-666-6899
    Assisting people over 60 with legal questions. MSN

To learn more about abuse in Late Life, please contact LaDawn Whiteside, Abuse in Late Life Advocate at The Friendship Center 406-442-6800.

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