New Report Exposes Lack of Resources for Older Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence

A report published this month highlights major gaps in community and criminal justice services to Texas women 50 and older who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault.

The report, released by the University of Texas Medical Branch, Center for Violence Prevention and the University of Central Florida Criminal Justice Department in collaboration with the Texas Council on Family Violence and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault shows domestic violence and sexual assault rates are high among older Texas women and many agencies do not have the resources to provide survivors with consistent housing, health, legal and counseling services. 

“Older survivors of sexual and domestic violence need a robust support network now more than ever in the wake of COVID-19 impacts,” says Dr. Leila Wood, associate professor at the Center for Violence Prevention and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “The goal of this project was to provide empirical information about prevalence and impact of domestic and sexual violence for Texas women and produce data-driven solutions to improve criminal justice and community service responses for this vulnerable group.”

Researchers surveyed 271 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who are 50 or older and conducted follow-up interviews with 21 survivors who were female-identified, 50 or older, and Texas residents. Researchers drew from surveys and interviews, as well as information from Texas Adult Protective Services, and legal aid professionals to inform the report. 

  • 36% of survey participants had experienced domestic violence in the past 12 months  
  • 20% of survey participants had experienced stalking in the past 12 months  
  • 17% of survey participants had experienced sexual violence in the past 12 months  

“Domestic violence and sexual assault impact women and girls across the lifespan, and at any given stage of life, survivor can experience nuanced and complex barriers and challenges to addressing the violence,” said Mikisha Hooper, program manager for the Texas Council on Family Violence. “This study is key to informing collaborative relationships with advocacy service providers and community partners.”

The report also includes information on the prevalence and impact of domestic and sexual violence for female-identified survivors in Texas and an assessment of needs for this vulnerable population. Service recommendations from survivor and staff interviews and surveys are included, as well as information about COVID-19 related impacts.

The full report, executive summary and one page summary recommendation briefs can be found here.