A National Comparison of Spousal Abuse in Mid- and Old Age

A National Comparison of Spousal Abuse in Mid- and Old Age
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  This article was downloaded by: [Simon Fraser University]On: 02 January 2015, At: 09:03Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Click for updates Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: A National Comparison of Spousal Abusein Mid- and Old Age Yongjie Yon MA a  , Andrew V. Wister PhD a  , Barbara Mitchell PhD a  &Gloria Gutman PhD aa  Department of Gerontology , Simon Fraser University , Vancouver ,British Columbia , CanadaAccepted author version posted online: 17 Mar 2013.Publishedonline: 07 Dec 2013. To cite this article:  Yongjie Yon MA , Andrew V. Wister PhD , Barbara Mitchell PhD & Gloria GutmanPhD (2014) A National Comparison of Spousal Abuse in Mid- and Old Age, Journal of Elder Abuse &Neglect, 26:1, 80-105, DOI: 10.1080/08946566.2013.784085 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the“Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &  Conditions of access and use can be found at    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   S   i  m  o  n   F  r  a  s  e  r   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   ]  a   t   0   9  :   0   3   0   2   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   5   Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect  , 26:80–105, 2014Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0894-6566 print/1540-4129 onlineDOI: 10.1080/08946566.2013.784085  A National Comparison of Spousal Abuse in Mid- and Old Age  YONGJIE YON, MA, ANDREW V. WISTER, PhD,BARBARA MITCHELL, PhD, and GLORIA GUTMAN, PhD  Department of Gerontology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada This exploratory study addresses whether there are similar or dif- ferent risks and protective factors associated with spousal abuse among mid-age adults (persons aged 45–59) and old-age adults (persons aged 60 and over). The risk and protective factors of abuse are compared across these two age groups and situated withina life course framework. Cross-sectional data from the 1999 and 2004 General Social Surveys are merged to address the researchquestions. Overall, it was found that there are as many differ-ences as there are similarities in risk  /  protective factors connected toindividual, relationship, and community environments. The find-ings are discussed in terms of program development and future research. KEYWORDS spousal abuse, age comparisons, life course  framework  INTRODUCTION Given the increased number and proportion of older persons in the popu-lations of Canada, the United States, and worldwide, issues relating to elderabuse are becoming increasingly important (McGechie, 2007). Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified abuse of older adults as aglobal social problem that requires urgent action (WHO, 2002, 2005). Yet,compared to other types of domestic violence, research on elder abuse isstill in its infancy (Wyandt, 2004). Part of the reason for limited research  Address correspondence to Yongjie Yon, Department of Gerontology, Simon FraserUniversity, 2800-515 Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5K3, Canada. E-mail: yongjie.yon@gmail.com80    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   S   i  m  o  n   F  r  a  s  e  r   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   ]  a   t   0   9  :   0   3   0   2   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   5   A National Comparison of Spousal Abuse in Mid- and Old Age   81 into this phenomenon is that it is fraught with many methodological bar-riers (e.g., under-reporting due to its sensitive nature) and unansweredquestions.One lingering question that arises in the literature, and that comprisesthe focus of this paper, is whether spousal abuse occurring later in life hasunique characteristics or whether it is a continuation of an earlier patternof abuse. In particular, there is a dearth of research that examines risk andprotective factors associated with spousal abuse among different age groups(Reeves, Desmarais, Nicholls, & Douglas, 2007). Overall, there has been morespeculation than evidence with respect to how spousal abuse changes overthe life course of individuals and families (Hotaling, Finkelhor, Kirkpatrick,& Straus, 1988). It is important to understand how spousal abuse may unfoldfor individuals at different life stages and the potential linkages, since theseaspects can have significant implications for programs and policies targetingabuse.In light of these knowledge gaps, the purpose of this paper is to conductan exploratory analysis of spousal abuse among mid- and old-age individu-als. It is guided by two research questions: (1) is the prevalence of differenttypes of spousal abuse similar or different among mid- and old-age adults,and (2) are there similar or different risk and protective factors associated with spousal abuse among mid- and old-age adults? Definition and Prevalence of Elder and Spousal Abuse  According to Johnson (2006), spousal abuse can be defined asphysical / sexual, psychological / emotional, and financial abuse. This defini-tion of spousal abuse is derived from the Canadian Criminal Code, whichstates that it entails “physical or sexual violence or psychological or finan-cial abuse within current or former marital or common-law relationships,including same-sex spousal relationships” (p. 9). The term intimate partner violence also has been used to denote abuse that may occur between indi- viduals who are in various intimate relationships, whether married, livingcommon-law or just living together. Since our focus is on comparing spousalabuse between mid- and old-age persons, we will use the term  spousal abuse  (for mid-life persons) and the term  elder spousal abuse   (for elderly persons)to cover spousal abuse as a specific form of abuse.The Canadian General Social Survey (GSS) has included periodic cycleson victimization, public perceptions of crime, and the justice system. Thesesurveys provide information and the prevalence rate of spousal abuse overtime for all Canadians aged 15 and over in the population. For example,data from the 1999 and 2004 GSS cycles found that approximately 8% of  women and 7% of men of any age who were married or living common-law experienced some type of spousal abuse in the 5 years (exposure period)prior to the survey dates (Pottie Bunge, 2000).    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   S   i  m  o  n   F  r  a  s  e  r   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   ]  a   t   0   9  :   0   3   0   2   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   5  82  Y. Yon et al. The 2004 GSS found that emotional and financial abuse together (cat-egories in the GSS combined due to small numbers) were 2.5 times morecommon among partners than physical abuse (17% and 7%, respectively). Additionally, it has been estimated that in the 5 years preceding the 2004 GSS,17% of all Canadians who were married or living in a common-law relation-ship reported some form of emotional or financial abuse, representing about3 million Canadians aged 15 years and over (Pottie Bunge, 2000). A recentreport indicates that 30% of spousal abuse is perpetrated by the male spouse who is 65 and more years old (AuCoin, 2005).The first and only Canadian national survey on elder abuse, conductedin 1989, was a telephone survey. It was found that 4% of the elderly popula-tion experienced some form of maltreatment and / or neglect in their home,but it did not identify the perpetrator. Financial abuse was most commonly reported (2.5%), followed by chronic verbal aggression (1.4%), physical violence (0.5%), and neglect (0.4%) (Podnieks, 1992).Recent U.S. prevalence studies indicated that 1 in 10 older Americansreported elder abuse in the past year. Financial abuse was the highest (5.2%)reported form, followed by potential neglect (5.1%), emotional (4.6%), andphysical (1.6%) mistreatment (Acierno et al., 2010). Likewise, in anotherstudy, verbal mistreatment, which often is considered as a type of emo-tional abuse, was the most common (9%) form, followed by financial (3.5%)mistreatment. The finding further indicated that verbal mistreatment washigher among women and those with physical vulnerabilities (Laumann,Leitsch, & Waite, 2008). A seminal U.S. study by Pillemer and Finkelhor (1988) found that acrossall types of elder abuse, the perpetrator was the spouse in 58% of thecases and the adult children in 42% of the cases. This difference becomesmore pronounced when physical abuse is considered, where abuse by aspouse makes up 60% of the cases of elder abuse. Therefore, a focuson spousal abuse in mid- and old age is warranted, given the lack of research and attention to possible differences at different stages of the lifecourse. Risk and Protective Factors of Spousal Abuse  While factors that put someone at risk or are protective of spousal abusehave been identified, this article will not attempt to test or compare theories.Rather, it will be framed and guided by the life course approach (Elder, 1998), which emphasizes both the potential importance of earlier life experienceson later ones, as well as the diversity of individual-level characteristics, inter-personal relationships, and resources (e.g., social and economic capital). Lifetrajectories also can alter over time due to the complex interplay of humanagency, historical location, and social change (Mitchell, 2003). On one hand,this perspective suggests that there may be continuity in spousal abuse over    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   S   i  m  o  n   F  r  a  s  e  r   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   ]  a   t   0   9  :   0   3   0   2   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   5
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