Beatrice is 70 years old. She has been married for 49 years and has three grown children. She is receiving temporary home after-care by a local nursing service following a recent fall.
When her daughter, Ella visits Beatrice she notices that her mother is withdrawn and depressed. During the visit, the nurse arrives and Ella speaks to her about her concerns.
They both talk with Beatrice about her mood and she starts sobbing. The nurse calms Beatrice and with her daughter’s support, Beatrice talks about how controlling her husband is and that he frequently forces her to have sex with him. He did this immediately after Beatrice returned home from hospital.
Because of ageist attitudes, older people are often considered to be sexually inactive and therefore there’s a belief that sexual assault only occurs for younger women. This can make it difficult for older women to speak up about sexual abuse and when they do, they might not be believed. They may feel ashamed or worried they may be blamed.
The physical and psychological impact for women, like Beatrice, after sexual assault can be severe and can result in poor overall health and increased fear and anxiety. Beatrice discloses that the abuse perpetrated by her husband has been occurring for some time. It’s only now with the support of her daughter and the nurse that she’s able to talk about it.
Older women have the right to live safely in their own home. When an older woman is being sexually abused by a family member or intimate partner, it’s important that they’re believed and supported.