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Relationships in Later Life

People later in life who are not in a happy and/or supportive relationship often find it more difficult to access support.

It may be that your partner or family member is controlling your life by making all the major decisions. It may be that they are harming you in some way, but it is never too late to seek support to be safe and happy.

The information below will help think through your options, and decide what to do to improve your safety and wellbeing.

Domestic Violence and Abuse

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support. This might involve:

  • exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain,
  • depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape; and
  • regulating their everyday behaviour.

Domestic abuse can happen within any family dynamic, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability or religion. It also includes honour based violence, forced marriage and FGM (female genital mutilation). Splitz have a specialist tool-kit for Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, that includes support for travellers, and can be accessed online at


Age is just a number:

Domestic abuse and sexual violence can happen to anyone - any age, gender, sex or religion. In many ways people later in life can be more vulnerable, due to age related factors - particularly health and finances. Abuse is equally serious whenever it is experienced in life.

It's never too late:

No matter what your age, you have the right to live a life free from abuse.  You have the rest of your life to live and deserve to be happy and safe.

Anyone can be abusive

Older people can be just as abusive as younger people. Abuse can be equally serious when perpetrated by an older person. There could be increased risk due to dementia, mental health issues and terminal illness. No matter what the cause of the behaviour, the result is the same. There is no excuse for abuse.

Where can I go for help?

  • Tell someone you trust as soon as possible (don't feel you are making a fuss) - this could be a professional, family member or friend.
  • Speak to your doctor or other health and social care professional. Be as honest as you can about what is happening. There is evidence that professionals might treat the symptoms (headaches, depression, etc.), rather than looking at the bigger picture and identifying domestic abuse as a cause.
  • Some people may be eligible for social care support with personal care and equipment. If you need help to live at home contact Care Direct on 0345 155 1007 or email
  • Call the Police (999) if you are in imminent danger.

What about housing?

Whether you jointly own your own home, have a shared tenancy or have a home adapted specifically to your needs (or the needs of your partner/family member) - you will always have choices to ensure your safety and well-being. This could be accessing support to feel safer in your own home, or access to alternative safe accommodation.

You can call or visit your local district council and they may have a legal duty to provide you with alternative accommodation. Options that may be available to you in an emergency are:

  • Temporary accommodation - depending on the decision your Local Housing Authority come to they may offer you temporary accommodation which could be in a Bed & Breakfast.
  • Refuge - there are safe houses all over the country providing temporary accommodation and support for males or females (and their children).
  • Places of safety - temporary accommodation in the community. This ranges from flats to houses (all fully furnished with new bedding and towels) providing specialist support from Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) from Splitz.

Options that may be available to you for a planned move are:

  • Private rent - depending on your financial situation, Housing may be able to offer you rent/deposit in advance for a private rental property.
  • Registering for independent accommodation through Devon Home Choice
  • Supported accommodation for elderly/those with care and support needs may be sought immediately or can be considered for a planned move.

Legal Advice

If you are feeling unsafe and want to prevent a partner/family member from treating you badly in any way, you can seek legal advice as you may be eligible to apply for protective orders.

Many solicitors will provide half an hour of free advice. You may also qualify for Legal Aid which will help to meet the costs of legal support, depending on your financial situation. If you are not eligible for Legal Aid there is still free support available via Splitz Support Service or Support Through Court.

Worried about Finances?

Having little or no control over finances or being forced to have total control of the finances can be unhealthy. Economic issues can create instability, fear, and loss of control.

You may be entitled to benefits, such as universal credit, state pension, pension credit, carer's allowance, disability allowance or Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The button below will take you to a calculator which will help you work out what you may be entitled to.

Benefits Calculator

Finances can seem like a minefield but they do not have to be. Seek advice and support as soon as possible - the sooner, the better. Support is always available.

Where can I find more information?

Please use the link below to read the Relationships in Later Life publication. If you need a paper copy, you can contact Splitz and they will post one to you.

Relationships in Later Life

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