Penrith has been labelled a domestic violence ‘hot spot’, and it’s not just a result of partner abuse.
Many older women accessing support services from the Penrith Women’s Health Centre are escaping their violent children, according to centre manager Jane Gold.
At a conference on violence against older women at Western Sydney University last week, Ms Gold said the most prominent abuse is financial, carried out both psychologically and physically.
Reports of violence against women over 45-years-old has increased at the Penrith centre in the last three years, but Ms Gold believes it has previously been under-reported.
“I think people are just coming forward more now. They’re at home reading the local paper and think, ‘hang on this sounds like me’,” she told the Weekender.
Ms Gold said this violence can be more complex to fix than a basic relationship breakdown, with women refusing to throw their children or grandchildren out on the street.
“It takes a lot of self-esteem and self-worth building for them to realise they don’t deserve this,” she said.
“If there are drugs involved and they are pressuring for money for drugs, mums say ‘I can’t kick them out, they need me’ and we have to say ‘hang on, they are adults and they are making adult decisions’.”
Western Sydney University Associate Professor, Jane Mears, said older women typically do not report experiences of family violence.
“There is clear evidence that the level of violence against older women in Australia is seriously underreported, with many victims feeling shame and embarrassment at their plight,” she said.
A report in The Daily Telegraph this week said Penrith was one of six domestic violence “hot spots” that would receive significant government intervention in the coming years.