Abstract: Perceived-Barriers to Help-Seeking and Types of Abuse on Older Adult Women (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

479P Perceived-Barriers to Help-Seeking and Types of Abuse on Older Adult Women

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Jennifer Ha, MSW, Master of Social Work Student, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Juye Ji, PhD, Associate Professor, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Background and Purpose. The older adult population has been rising worldwide, including the United States, and will continually rise. The population of older adult females has also surpassed the male population. In 2010, for every 100 women, there were 89 men from ages 65 to 69 (National Center of Elder Abuse, 2018). Elder abuse is not often discussed nor widely explored in today’s society and many elder abuse cases are unreported. Furthermore, there is lack of research addressing elder abuse among older adult women. The goal of this study is to investigate the effects of psychological, physical and sexual elder abuse on perceived-barriers to help-seeking by older adult women.

Method. The current study utilized the data from the study titled, “Testing a Model of Domestic Abuse Against Elder Women and Perceived Barriers to Help-Seeking” (Newman, Seff, & Beaulaurier, 2010). Participants were 445 women who were at least 50 years old, not in a service system for abused women, and had to have experienced abuse after the age of 50 if they were victims of domestic violence (61.0% White, 21.4% Black; Age, 35.3% 50-64, 38.0% 65-74, 26.7% 75 or older older). Participants were recruited through newspaper advertisements, flyers, and announcements at senior centers in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The Conflict Tactics Scales-Revised, Short Version (CTS2S) (Douglas, 2004) was a 10-item, 4-point Likert scale and the measurement tool used to measure psychological, physical and sexual abuse. The Perceived Barriers to Help-Seeking (PBHS) assessment included 46 self-report items rated on a 4-point Likert scale. The current study utilized 5 subscales of PBHS including secrecy, self-blame, emotional gridlock, and use of informal and formal services responses. A series of multiple regression analyses was conducted.

Results. Several statistically significant findings were found. Results indicated that experiencing psychological abuse predicted lower levels of secrecy as a barrier to help-seeking, but physical and sexual abuse did not. Participants who experienced physical abuse were more likely to experience higher levels of self-blame and emotional gridlock as a barrier to help-seeking. Furthermore, physical abuse and sexual abuse predicted higher levels of perceived barrier regarding use of informal services response. None of the elder abuse variables significantly predicted perceived barrier regarding use of formal service response.

Conclusion. The results of the current study emphasized several needs in regard to identifying elder abuse and supporting victims. Different types of abuse have different effects on perceived barriers to help-seeking of victims. This implies that depending on the type of abuse, the behaviors of victims may vary. Victims may decide to seek help or not based on the type of abuse they experience, which impacts their perceived barriers to help-seeking. Professionals working with older adults should be more aware of the connection between specific perceived barriers to help-seeking and the types of abuses.