Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 535–545 | Cite as

Are Transition Houses Equipped to Meet the Needs of Women in Midlife and Older?

  • Kristal D. LeBlanc
  • Lori E. Weeks


This study addresses the extent to which transition houses, defined as residential facilities for abused women and children, meet the needs of women in midlife and older. Seventeen transition house directors completed an on-line survey and eight participated in an interview. Women in midlife and older comprised 28 % of the transition house population. Thematic analysis resulted in the identification of three key themes: life at home and in the community, living in the transition house, and starting a new life. While policies, accessibility, privacy, support and outreach could be improved, the transition houses offered safety and security for women across the lifespan. Recommendations for research, policy and practice are included to ensure that transition houses offer a welcoming, suitable, and supportive environment for women in midlife and older.


Older women Intimate partner violence Transition houses 


  1. Allen, K. R., Blieszner, R., & Roberto, K. A. (2000). Families in the middle and later years: a review and critique of research in the 1990s. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62(4), 911–926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beaulaurier, R. L., Seff, L. R., Newman, F. L., & Dunlop, B. (2007). External barriers to help seeking for older women who experience intimate partner violence. Journal of Family Violence, 22, 747–755. doi: 10.1007/s10896-007-9122-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beaulaurier, R. L., Seff, L. R., Newman, F. L., & Dunlop, B. (2005). Internal barriers to help seeking for middle-aged and older women who experience intimate partner violence. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 17(3), 53–74. doi: 10.1007/s10896-007-9122y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beaulaurier, R. L., Seff, L. R., & Newman, F. L. (2008). Barriers to help-seeking for older women who experience intimate partner violence: a descriptive model. Journal of Women & Aging, 20(3/4), 231–248. doi: 10.1080/08952840801984543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonomi, A. E., Anderson, M. L., Reid, R. J., Carrell, D., Fishman, P. A., Rivara, F. P., et al. (2007). Intimate partner violence in older women. The Gerontologist, 47(1), 34–41. doi: 10.1093/geront/47.1.34.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brandl, B. (2000). Power and control: understanding domestic abuse in later life. Generations, 25(2), 39–45.Google Scholar
  7. Brandl, B., Hebert, M., Rozwadowski, J., & Spangler, D. (2003). Feeling safe, feeling strong: support groups for older abused women. Violence Against Women, 9(12), 1490–1503. doi: 10.1177/1077801203259288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. doi: 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buchbinder, E., & Winterstein, T. (2003). “Like a wounded bird”: older battered women’s life experiences with intimate violence. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 15(2), 23–44. doi: 10.1300/J084v15n02_02.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burns, M., & Taylor-Butts, A. (2009). A profile of Canada’s shelters for abused woman. Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile (85-224-X). Ottawa: Statistics Canada.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2000). Research methods in education (5th ed.). London: Routledge Falmer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Creswell, J. W., & Tashakkori, A. (2007). Editorial: differing perspectives on mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(4), 303–308. doi: 10.1177/1558689807306132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Crichton, S. J., Bond, J. B., Harvey, C. D. H., & Ristock, J. (1999). Elder abuse: feminist and ageist perspectives. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 10(3/4), 115–130. doi: 10.1300/J084v10n03_06.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dunlop, B. D., Beaulaurier, R. L., Seff, L. R., Newman, F. L., Malik, N., & Fuster, M. (2005). Domestic violence against older women: Final Technical Report. U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  15. Fisher, B., Zink, T., Rinto, B., Regan, S., Pabst, S., & Gothelf, E. (2003). Overlooked issues during the golden years: domestic violence and intimate partner violence against older women. Violence Against Women, 9(12), 1409–1416. doi: 10.1177/1077801203259230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grunfeld, A. F., Larsson, D. M., MacKay, K., & Hotch, D. (1996). Domestic violence against elderly women. Canadian Family Physician, 42, 1485–1493.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hightower, J., Smith, M. J. G., & Hightower, H. C. (2006). Hearing the voices of abused older women. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 46(3/4), 205–227. doi: 10.1300/J083v46n03_12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hightower, J., Smith, M. J., Ward-Hall, C. A., & Hightower, H. C. (2000). Meeting the needs of abused older women? A British Columbia and Yukon transition house survey. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 11(4), 39–57. doi: 10.1300/J084v11n04_04.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Janovicek, N. (2007). No place to go: Local histories of battered women’s shelter movement. Vancouver: UBC Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kincheleo, J., & McLaren, P. (1994). Rethinking critical theory and qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 138–157). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Leisey, M., Kupstas, P. K., & Cooper, A. (2009). Domestic violence in the second half of life. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 21, 141–155. doi: 10.1080/08946560902779951.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lev-Wiesel, R., & Kleinberg, B. (2002). Elderly battered wives’ perceptions of the spousal relationship as reflected in the drawings of the couple. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 29, 13–17. doi: 10.1016/S0197-4556(01)00122-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lundy, M., & Grossman, S. F. (2009). Domestic violence service users: a comparison of older and younger women. Journal of Family Violence, 24, 297–309. doi: 10.1007/s10896-009-9230-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Martel, L., & Malenfant, E. C. (2008). 2006 census: Portrait of the Canadian population in 2006, by age and sex: Provincial/territorial populations by age and sex. (97-551-XWE200601). Ottawa: Statistics Canada.Google Scholar
  25. Mears, J. (2003). Survival is not enough: violence against older women in Australia. Violence Against Women, 9(12), 1478–1489. doi: 10.1177/1077801203259287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mears, J., & Visher, C. A. (2005). Trends in understanding and addressing domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20(2), 204–211. doi: 10.1177/0886260504267739.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Montminy, L. (2005). Older women’s experiences of psychological violence in their marital relationships. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 46(2), 3–22. doi: 10.1300/J083v46n02•02.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mouton, C. P., Rodabough, R. J., Rovi, S. L., Hunt, J. L., Talamantes, M. A., Brzyski, R. G., et al. (2004). Prevalence and 3-year incidence of abuse among postmenopausal women. American Journal of Public Health, 94(4), 605–612.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ockleford, E., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Morichelli, R., Morjaria, A., Scocchera, F., & Furniss, F. (2003). Mistreatment of older women in three European countries. Violence Against Women, 9(12), 1453–1464. doi: 10.1177/1077801203259236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Penhale, B. (2003). Older women, domestic violence, and elder abuse: a review of commonalities, differences and shared approaches. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 15(3/4), 163–180. doi: 10.1300/J084v15n03_10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rennison, C. (2001). Intimate partner violence and age of victim, 1993–1999. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report (NCJ 187635). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  32. Rennison, C., & Rand, M. R. (2003). Nonlethal intimate partner violence against women: a comparison of three age cohorts. Violence Against Women, 9(12), 1417–1428. doi: 10.1177/1077801203259232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Samantaraya-Shivji, L., & Habafy, N. (2007). Older women’s long-term survival program: Resisting a lifetime of abuse. Calgary: Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.Google Scholar
  34. Sandelowski, M. (2000). Combining qualitative and quantitative sampling, data collection, and analysis techniques in mixed-method studies. Research in Nursing and Health, 23(3), 246–255. doi: 10.1002/1098-240X(200006)23:3<246::AID-NUR9>3.0.CO;2-H.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Seaver, C. (1996). Muted lives: older battered women. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 8(2), 3–21. doi: 10.1300/J084v08n02_02.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Seff, L. R., Beaulaurier, R. L., & Newman, F. L. (2008). Nonphysical abuse: findings in Domestic Violence Against Older Women Study. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 8(3), 355–374. doi: 10.1080/10926790802278933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Statistics Canada (2009). Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile. (85-224-X) Ottawa, ON: Author.Google Scholar
  38. Stiles, W. (1999). Evaluating qualitative research. Evidence-Based Mental Health, 2, 99–101. doi: 10.1136/ebmh.2.4.99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Straka, S. M., & Montminy, L. (2006). Responding to the needs of older women experiencing domestic violence. Violence Against Women, 12(3), 251–267. doi: 10.1177/1077801206286221.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Teaster, P. B., Roberto, K. A., & Dugar, T. A. (2006). Intimate partner violence of rural aging women. Family Relations, 55, 636–648. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2006.00432.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vinton, L. (2003). A model collaborative project toward making domestic violence centers elder ready. Violence Against Women, 9(12), 1504–1513. doi: 10.1177/1077801203259289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vinton, L. (1992). Battered women’s shelters and older women: the Florida experience. Journal of Family Violence, 7(1), 63–72. doi: 10.1007/BF00978725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vinton, L. (1998). A nationwide survey of domestic violence shelters’ programming for older women. Violence Against Women, 4(5), 559–571. doi: 10.1177/1077801298004005003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vinton, L. (1999). Working with abused older women from a feminist perspective. Journal of Women & Aging, 11(2/3), 85–100. doi: 10.1300/J074v11n02_07.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vinton, L., Altholz, J. A., & Lobell, T. (1997). A five-year follow up study of domestic violence programming for battered older women. Journal of Women & Aging, 9(1/2), 3–15. doi: 10.1300/J074v09n01_02.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Weeks, L. E., & LeBlanc, K. (2011). An ecological synthesis of research on older women’s experiences of intimate partner violence. Journal of Women & Aging, 23(4), 283–304. doi: 10.1080/08952841.2011.611043.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Weeks, L. E., Richards, J. L., Nilsson, T., Kozma, A., & Bryanton, O. (2004). A gendered analysis of the abuse of older adults: evidence from professionals. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 16(2), 1–13. doi: 10.1300/J084v16n02_01.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Whittaker, T. (1995). Violence, gender and elder abuse: towards a feminist analysis and practice. Journal of Gender Studies, 4(1), 35–45. doi: 10.1080/09589236.1995.9960591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wilke, D. J., & Vinton, L. (2005). The nature and impact of domestic violence across age cohorts. Affilia, 20(3), 316–328. doi: 10.1177/0886109905277751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Winterstein, T., & Eisikovits, Z. (2005). The experience of loneliness of battered old women. Journal of Women & Aging, 17(4), 3–19. doi: 10.1300/J074v17n04_02.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yodanis, C. L. (2004). Gender inequality, violence against women, and fear. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19(6), 655–675. doi: 10.1177/0886260504263868.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zink, T., Fisher, B. S., Regan, S., & Pabst, A. (2005). The prevalence and incidence of intimate partner violence in older women in primary care practices. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 20(10), 884–888. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2005.0191.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zink, T., Jacobson, C. J., Regan, S., Fisher, B., & Pabst, S. (2006). Older women’s descriptions and understandings of their abusers. Violence Against Women, 12(9), 851–864. doi: 10.1177/1077801206292680.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zink, T., Jacobson, C. J., Jr., Regan, S., & Pabst, S. (2004). Hidden victims: the healthcare needs and experiences of older women in abusive relationships. Journal of Women's Health, 13(8), 898–908.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zink, T., Regan, S., Jacobson, C. J., & Pabst, S. (2003). Cohort, period, and aging effects: a qualitative study of older women’s reasons for remaining in abusive relationships. Violence Against Women, 9(12), 1429–1441. doi: 10.1177/1077801203259231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beausejour Family Crisis Resource CentreShediacCanada
  2. 2.Department of Applied Human SciencesUniversity of Prince Edward IslandCharlottetownCanada

Personalised recommendations