There’s help available for elderly victims of Domestic Violence

Today is “Purple Thursday” within Domestic Violence Awareness month. It’s been about 40 years since the taboo subject of conjugal crime and battering were brought out of the shadows and onto the table for public discussion. A small group of women (including myself) worked in a small network of shelters around the state and did our best to assist victims to get protective orders, new housing, jobs and financial support. We did speaking engagements to educate the public, police and lawmakers about the need for protections for victims. The first Domestic Violence restraining order law, A1330,  was signed by Governor Byrne in 1981. For those of us who were active in the battered women’s movement back in the 70’s, the signing of that law was a great day. To see the timeline of major events in this effort, take a  look at

FREL Team in Purple

Our staff, all wearing purple to support Domestic Violence Awareness Day.

A history of domestic abuse occasionally is revealed to me when I meet with my elderly clients who come in to discuss nursing home placement. Typically it has been a wife who is talking to me about options at a point that the batterer now has Alzheimers or other dementia which is rendering him increasingly incapable and dependent. The victimized spouse who has stood by him throughout the decades of marriage now has a spouse with limited cognitive capability and she wonders, can I finally be free and regain my life? Am I required to care for him at home? In some cases, the children were also abused, and as adults, have turned away and — understandably —  feel they just cannot help. Sometimes it’s only at this point that the spouse feels it is safe to put her own well-being first. Making the decision to arrange nursing home placement is sometimes the solution that finally creates a safe space for her in her home in her old age.

For more resources and referrals, contact Partners for Women and Justice or the NJ Coalition for Battered Women.

For legal advice concerning elder care and nursing home planning, call 732-382-6070

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