Many of the challenges, impacts, and effects faced by survivors of sexual assault and abuse are all faced by older women.
In addition to these, many women do not come forward about a history of sexual abuse until they are in their senior years. There can be a lot of reasons why older women who have been sexually abused come forward to seek counselling for the first time or to re-engage with counselling again when they are older. Some of these women have only come forward now as they have only just started to feel they can talk about what happened to them, counselling and support may not have been available to them, counselling and support may not have been available to them at the time of abuse or they may have spend their lifetime focusing on family or other pursuits and did not have time to focus on themselves. Many older people are on some type of pension and financial concerns can prevent people from accessing help and support.
Whilst it is not often recognized by broader society, sexual assault can also happen to older women by their partner, family, relatives, people they are living with, people they know or strangers. If you are an older woman you may feel a sense of shame coming forward at this later age.
It is important to know that the need for support can arise at any age and it is never to late to seek support.
As an older person, if you have been sexually assaulted by someone who is providing you with services or other things you need such as maintenance, meals, personal care or assistance with activities of daily living , it can be difficult to speak out against them for fear of losing the support or services. It is important that you know, that no matter what services a person provides you with, regardless of whether they are related to you, someone you know or someone you do not know, sexual assault is never acceptable and you should not have to endure any kind of abuse.
You might be concerned about others finding out about what happened of you are forced to report to police. AT the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre we respect peoples rights to make their own decisions and we will support you in the decisions you wish to ake including your choice of whether you would like to report or not report.
The information you give us is only kept within our agency and only passed on to others with your written consent unless we are concerned about risk of abuse or neglect of a child or we are concerned about risk to yourself. In each of these situations we normally work with you to pass on the information so that any vulnerable person can be supported to be safe. If you have concerns about our confidentiality you can speak with us and we can give you some more information.
At CRCC we provide free, confidential services and can work with older people in addressing any barriers which make it difficult to access support.
If physical mobility is difficult or you are living in a nursing home you may not be able to get into the community very often and may feel that you are unable to access support services. You have rights to access safe services, and have workers respect you, your body and your choices. You can contact the CRCC Crisis Line and speak with a counsellor about your concerns and if transport is a problem we can discuss options with you.
In all emergencies phone the police on 000.
Phone the Rape Crisis Centre any time on (02) 6247 2525.