Experts say the numbers are tough to track for those over 45, but they have seen plenty of middle-aged, and even elderly, women seeking help for what’s called intimate partner violence. For example, at SAFEHOME, a shelter and counseling service for victims of domestic abuse in Overland Park, Kansas, approximately 30 percent of the calls are from women over 40, and 20 percent of the women in the shelter are over 50. Some women in long-term relationships don’t always recognize the signs of abuse. If it’s tough for young women to leave their abusive husbands, it’s even more difficult for those in marriages that have lasted 30 or 40 years or longer.
According to professionals working in the domestic violence arena, women may love their partner very much and may have children, hence the thought of losing control of their finances can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. Some women stay in abusive relationships for the interest of their children. Even if the children are grown, having grandchildren adds on another component. Others want to honor their commitment to the marriage or faith doctrines may keep them in the relationship. Some find the admission of domestic abuse embarrassing and choose to keep silent for decades.
The Silhouettes of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, want to bring awareness of the impact on African American women who suffer from physical, emotional, verbal or sexual violence at the hands their partners, including a special focus on women over the age of 50. In many cases women feel they are not in a position to leave. And, in many circumstances, if the decision is to leave, it takes an average of seven tries. It can be most dangerous time for a woman in a violent relationship, so developing a safety plan is of utmost importance. When it comes to emotional abuse, having an emotional safety plan in place is paramount, since so many lack the confidence of knowing they can continue on their own.
Knowing what to do to survive in these situations is the goal of this initiative. Emotional well- being might include eating right, practicing yoga and taking walks or helping women find little pieces of their life they can control – to help them to get to the other side of tomorrow.
The Tomorrow Project will provide tools to assist women who fall prey to intimate partner violence in their quest to improve their physical and emotional well-being. A tool kit will be designed to be disseminated to women of color placing emphasis on older women whose circumstances may warranted alternative solutions when addressing domestic violence. The goal of this project is to start the dialogue on how women can best take control of their destiny, despite the barriers the may exist.