Arizona Abuse in Later Life Grant Vision Statement
Create a collaborative community preventing and responding to victims of late life abuse while maintaining their safety, dignity, and autonomy.
The Abuse in Later Life Grant was awarded through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) for victims of late life abuse (50+) in Maricopa County and surrounding areas, from August 2020 through September 2023.
Our mission is to collaborate with the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) DOVES program to provide advocacy, case management and housing needs identified by the community to victims of late life abuse through a Housing Specialist role. The Housing Specialist will help victims overcome the unique challenges that older victims face when they attempt to protect themselves and leave their abusers.
The Arizona Abuse in Later Life partners meet monthly in a coordinated community response team (CCRT) to collaborate and to discuss resources, protocols, and systems checks related to elder abuse. Partners will follow the guiding principles and strategies as written in the grant.
The direct services portion of the grant will be used to fund a Housing Specialist position to assist victims of late life abuse in Maricopa County or surrounding areas. The AAA DOVES Program Housing Specialist can provide support and advocacy for victims of late life abuse that need a safe place to stay. Services can include up to 10 days of emergency housing such as a hotel and includes food, clothing, and toiletries.
Please contact the AAA DOVES program for more information:
Area Agency Region One
24/7 Senior HELP LINE in Maricopa County
JaNee Valerio, Housing Specialist
For more information on the Abuse in Later Life grant partnership, please contact Jodi Hekter, Project Specialist Abuse in Later Life Grant [email protected].
Late life abuse includes physical and emotional abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, sexual abuse and domestic violence to individuals age 50+, according to the Abuse in Later Life Grant definition.
"Elder abuse includes physical, sexual or psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation of an older person by another person or entity, that occurs in any setting, either in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and/or when an older person is targeted based on age or disability." Elder Justice Roadmap (2014).
While sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking can affect victims in any age group, individuals who are 50 years of age or older who experience abuse, neglect, and exploitation can face unique barriers to receiving assistance. Age or disability may increase isolation for victims with limited social resources, and professionals may mistakenly perceive age or disability, rather than abuse, as the reason for a victim’s injuries. Victims may depend on their abusers for care, transportation or housing while the abusers may intimidate them; using threats of being sent to a nursing home to keep them quiet. It is particularly critical for criminal justice professionals and victim service providers to recognize the subtle indicators that an older individual is being abused.
NOTE: It is important to realize that age alone does not qualify an individual as a vulnerable adult. An alert, functioning 80-year old may not be a vulnerable adult, while a 19-year-old with a mental or physical impairment might qualify under the statute. Thus, it is critical to be sure an assessment of the victim’s functioning is included in the police. It may be difficult to tell whether abuse or neglect is occurring. In general, look for changes in the person’s overall behavior or habits. Take into consideration how and what the person is communicating, what their economic conditions are, signs of their emotional health, their physical limitations, their personal appearance and the condition of their home and surroundings.
Domestic Violence – Domestic violence does not respect age. Domestic violence in later life occurs when older individuals are physically, sexually or emotionally abused, exploited, or neglected by someone with whom they have an ongoing relationship. Abusers’ tactics are remarkably similar regardless of age. Abusers frequently look for someone they can dominate, those believed to be weak, unlikely or unable to retaliate. With respect specifically to abuse in later life, the aggressors may include a spouse or former spouse, partners, adult children, extended family, and in some cases caregivers.
Learn about the DES Domestic Violence Program.
Sexual Violence – Sexual violence occurs whenever a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity, including when a vulnerable adult is unable to consent due to age, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Sexual violence of older adults is rarely talked about. Ageism contributes to the mistaken notion that older people are “asexual,”, which fosters the dangerous assumption that they cannot be targets of sexual violence. Older adults may be reliant on their perpetrators to provide their care, which makes victims especially vulnerable to continued violence. Some indicators of sexual violence are bruising, ligature marks, welts, burns, or unexplained STDs.
Exploitation – “Exploitation” means the illegal or improper use of a vulnerable adult or the vulnerable adult’s resources for another’s profit or advantage. Investigation of exploitation differs from investigation of abuse or neglect. Investigators with extensive background, training and experience in document-related crimes should be involved in exploitation investigations. A perpetrator who will exploit a vulnerable adult will often put themselves in a position of caregiver to the victim and may abuse them, as well. Coordination between the abuse investigator and the exploitation investigator is critical to the case preparation.
Financial Exploitation – The wrongful or unauthorized taking, withholding, appropriating or use of money, assets or property of a vulnerable adult OR any act or omission taken by a person, including through the use of a power of attorney, guardianship or conservatorship of vulnerable adult, to either obtain control through deception, intimidation or undue influence over the vulnerable adult’s money, assets or property to deprive the eligible adult of the ownership, use, benefit or possession of the eligible adult’s money, assets or property.
The purpose of the resource guide is to provide a legal remedies and victim resource guide related to Elder Abuse in Maricopa County. This resource guide provides information to community stakeholders to allow them to effectively intervene in cases involving crimes against older adults in Arizona, age 50 and older. The goal is to treat these victims with dignity and respect and to reduce the number of crimes committed. The Resource Guide will fully address the exploitation and abuse of older adults, provide guidelines and serve as a reference source for interagency cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and management of abuse and exploitation cases involving older adults. This Resource guide will help our stakeholders identify, investigate such cases and hold offenders accountable through prosecution.
See list of Other Resources included in the Maricopa County Legal Remedies and Victim Resource Guide for Elder Abuse, including:
This project was supported by #2020-EW-AX-K004 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, US Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. For more information or questions please contact the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Division of Community Assistance and Development (DCAD). The OVW grant funds the Arizona Abuse in Later Life Project through September 2023. Please contact Jodi Hekter, Program Coordinator at [email protected] or contact Division of Community Assistance and Development (DCAD) (602) 542-4446 if you have any questions about this resource guide.