Daphne Toolkit

Prevalence Study of Abuse and Violence against Older Women (AVOW)

Project Reference Number: 

Prevalence Study of Abuse and Violence against Older Women (AVOW)

The growth of the older population and their increasing longevity gives added importance to the need to address the abuse and neglect of older women. Most people, as they age, remain in their own homes and the general tendency is to support them in doing so. Abuse and neglect of older women are increasingly acknowledged internationally as a social problem, however knowledge of its extent is very limited as well as the availability of prevalence data. Moreover only small studies are available.


The project cast a light on this serious yet still in many ways invisible issue. Focussing on five European countries - Austria, Belgium, Finland, Lithuania and Portugal - the study answered questions and provided data about the prevalence of violence against older women, the patterns of violence, the risk factors of becoming a victim of family violence, information on perpetrators and how victims of family violence have sought and received help as well as the effectiveness of help received.


The following activities were implemented during the lifecycle of the action:

1) Literature search in national and international databases,

2) Partner workshop assessing and evaluating the questionnaires available,

3) Piloting the questionnaire and research methods,

4) Partner workshop on sharing experience of the piloting phase,

5) Partner workshop on research guidelines,

6) Building up a common database and template for data management,

7) Conducting surveys and interviews in partner countries,

8) Partner workshop on national results,

9 ) Comparing the results between the partner countries as well as between existing EU research, throughout the project duration (article and research reports),

10) Final European report, evaluation report and disseminating the results in four international conferences and scientific papers as well as on project partners' websites, throughout project duration.


Information gathered by the study can be used on both policy and practical levels in the development of preventive measures as well as in the planning and implementation of support services for those older women who experience violence. According to the results over one in four women over 60 years of age have experienced abuse or violence in the last 12 months, but less than half of them ever tell about or report those incidents. In most cases, the perpetrator has been, or is, her current partner or spouse. Mistreatment is connected with lower quality of life and with for example loneliness, poverty and poor mental and physical health.


The project's results were presented in 8 international conferences and in various local events. National level press releases and articles raised awareness of the issue and reached older women, professionals and citizens. A discussion event was organised in the European Parliament on recommendations for experts and policy makers. Literature reviews and conference abstracts can be found on the project website http://www.thl.fi/en_US/web/en/research/projects/avow.