Research finds increase in domestic and financial abuse against older people

Sage Advocacy also finds women are more likely to experience abuse

There was an increase in domestic violence and financial abuse against older or vulnerable adults during the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report states.

Women were more likely to be victims of crime than men, according to Sage Advocacy, the national organisation for older and vulnerable people.

The research – undertaken as part of the group’s victims of crime project, which is supported by the Department of Justice – analysed the nature and subject of crimes against older people and adults who may be vulnerable.

It was based primarily on referrals to the organisation in 2019, last year and the first half this year, but also included responses from an online survey conducted by the charity through its social media channels.


The research found that women (58 per cent) were more likely to be victims of crime than men (42 per cent) over the past three years. Some 54 per cent of referrals to the organisation relating to a crime occurred in intergenerational households or complex household structures where the older person shared the house with an adult child and their family or other relatives.

The most common alleged perpetrators of crime were family members such as sons, daughters, husbands or wives.

There was a decrease in the number of referrals to the charity about crime during the Covid-19 pandemic, but Sage Advocacy’s data detected an increase in domestic and financial abuse during this time. There were 92 cases where finances were the primary issue in 2019, and 210 last year, the charity said.


The research found that adults who may be vulnerable and aged 65 and over were most likely to be the victims of financial abuse and domestic violence.

Some victims of crime had a “fear” of reporting the crime, had initially “felt unsupported” or had difficulty identifying what services were available to them, according to the findings.

Sarah Lennon, executive director of Sage Advocacy, said there are "many different crimes" perpetrated against people who have to depend on others.

“One of the key elements that emerged during this project was that there appeared to be a direct connection between levels of crime and Covid-19 lockdown restrictions,” she said.

“During this research project we detected that some victims of crime had not initially known what to do or where to find support – this highlights the lack of a multi-disciplinary approach for victims of crime.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times