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Help-Seeking Among Victims of Elder Abuse: Findings From the National Elder Mistreatment Study

NCJ Number
Journals of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences Volume: 74 Issue: 5 Dated: June 2019 Pages: 891-896
David. Burnes; Ron Acierno; Melba A Hernandez-Tejada
Date Published
June 2019
6 pages
Since most elder-abuse (EA) victims are hidden from formal institutional response systems, this study was guided by the Behavioral Model of Health Services Use in examining factors that facilitate or impede formal help-seeking among victims of elder emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.

Study data came from a national, population-based elder abuse study in the United States with a representative sample of 304 past-year victims. Gold-standard strategies were used to assess EA subtypes. Multivariate logistic regression was conducted to identify help-seeking facilitators/barriers. The study found that help-seeking through reporting to police or other authorities occurred among only 15.4 percent of EA victims. Help-seeking was higher among victims of physical abuse, poly-victimization, or those with a perpetrator having prior police trouble. Help-seeking was lower among victims who were dependent upon their perpetrator and in cases where the perpetrator had a large friendship network. These findings highlight the hidden nature of EA as a problem in our society and the need to develop strategies that incorporate victim, perpetrator, and victim-perpetrator relationship factors to promote greater help-seeking among victims. 1 table and 26 references (publisher abstract modified)