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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We use this month to draw attention to this crime and to reaffirm our commitment to ending domestic violence.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence occurs not just between intimate partners, but between other family members, people who had a prior dating relationship, and people who have a child together. There are different forms of domestic violence. While domestic violence includes physical violence, it is important to recognize that domestic abuse is not limited to the actual infliction of physical injury or assault. Domestic violence includes sexual assault and actions that cause another person to fear imminent and serious physical injury.

Other forms of domestic violence include stalking, threats, emotional abuse, and actions to disturb another person’s peace. Actions to disturb the peace means conduct that destroys the mental or emotional calm of another person. Domestic violence can also include harassing phone calls and can involve a systemic pattern of power, coercion, and control perpetrated by one person against another.

Who Experiences Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can occur at any age and can overlap with elder abuse, which includes physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse, as well as neglect and abandonment. For some, intimate partner violence can be present during the entire duration of the relationship. For others, domestic violence can emerge later in life. Abuse occurs across all demographic lines, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and gender identity. While domestic violence victims are often women, men are also victims of domestic violence.

What can you do if you are experiencing domestic violence?

For those experiencing domestic violence, one option is to seek a restraining order. Restraining orders are a tool that can be used to prevent future abuse. With a restraining order, a judge can order the abusive person to stay away from the victim, to have no contact with the victim, and even to move out of the victim’s house. Most importantly, a restraining order can require an abuser to refrain from harassing, abusing, stalking, threatening, intimidating, and harming the victim. Contra Costa Senior Legal Services can help residents of Contra Costa County who are age 60 and older obtain a restraining order.

Resources for Older Adults Experiencing Domestic Violence

Contra Costa County has several organizations that provide support for older adults who are experiencing domestic violence. Resources include the following:

  • Contra Costa Senior Legal Services: call (925) 609-7900
  • Adult Protective Services: call (925) 646-2854 to report abuse
  • Stand! For Families Free of Violence: call the 24-hour toll-free crisis line at 1-888-215-5555
  • The Family Justice Center: call (510) 974-7200 for the Richmond office, call (925) 521-6366 for the Concord Office, call (925) 281-0970 for the Antioch Office.

Click here to learn more about domestic violence later in life.