Sexual Violence against Older People: A Review of the Empirical Literature

Hannah Bows

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    Ageing and sexual violence are both established areas of research, but little attention has been paid to research into sexual violence against older people. This article presents a critical review of the literature reporting empirical research in three overlapping fields of inquiry: elder abuse, domestic violence and sexual violence, identifying points of theoretical and methodological similarity and difference across academic disciplines. Using a range of search terms combining age, sexual violence and elder abuse, the following databases were searched: EBSCOHOST, Ingenta-Ingenta connect and JSTOR. In total, the databases searches returned 40 relevant articles and an additional 9 relevant articles were found through manual searches of bibliographies and Google searches, which were grouped into three categories: elder abuse, domestic violence in later life and sexual violence against older people. Four themes common across these fields emerged: prevalence; characteristics of victims and risk factors; impacts and coping strategies; and perpetrator and assault characteristics. The findings in each area are discussed in detail, exposing gaps in knowledge and understandings of sexual violence against older women. The article ends by defining a future research agenda for this under-explored phenomenon that is of increasing importance in a context of global ageing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)-
    JournalTrauma, Violence and abuse
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


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