We understand that for women of an older generation, fleeing abuse can be especially difficult.
Brought up to believe that ‘what happens at home stays at home,’ many senior women have felt pressured to suffer in silence, rather than leave and seek help.
Gertrude is 70. Her husband died 10 years ago and she thought she would never date again. She met Bert at her grandson’s wedding. He was very attentive, and they began seeing each other. They would go to the movies once a week and sometimes out to dinner. One night he began to cuddle on the couch. She was flattered, then uncomfortable as his intentions became clear. “No, Bert,” she said, “I don’t want to…” but he insisted, pushing her back on the couch and raping her. She was very upset, but also ashamed. She didn’t think this could happen to her, at her age. How could she even tell anyone? Imagine if her children and grandchildren knew! She did not answer his calls for a few days but then he appeared at the door with flowers, and she couldn’t leave him on the doorstep. The experience repeated itself. Now Gertrude dreads the doorbell or phone ringing, but she does not know what to do. Obviously she made the wrong choice. She should never have started dating him. It is her fault.
It is not Gertrude’s fault. Bert may be attentive, but he is sexually abusing her. She can find support and complete safety planning with the outreach worker at Optimism Place. Gertrude may take comfort in knowing that all services are free and confidential.
Fortunately, attitudes are changing and we’re seeing a marked increase in the number of senior women leaving abusive relationships and taking control of their lives.
Thanks to a greater public awareness of domestic abuse, many seniors are also realizing that the women’s shelters of the past – often busy, crowded and underfunded places – have changed.
Optimism Place, Perth County’s only shelter for abused women, is now well equipped to serve senior women. We have a safe, modern, fully accessible building with an elevator and ground floor accommodation. We also offer the kinds of support services senior women need – things like counseling, help managing medications, assistance sorting out finances, help finding a long-term place to live and organizing health care services.
And it’s all free.
Our crisis line operates 24 hours a day, so women can call anytime – to arrange for free transportation to the shelter from anywhere in Perth County – or just to talk.
We understand what you’re going through, so please call and let us help.
We also have an office and support worker in Listowel and North Perth.