Security Research

Mind the Gap! Improving intervention in intimate partner violence against older women

Project Management: Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Mag.a Helga Amesberger Birgitt Haller
Mag.a Sandra Messner (ZSW)
Financed by: Daphne III/ European Commission via Zoom –
Gesellschaft für prospektive Entwicklungen e.V., Göttingen
Federal Chancellery/Federal Minister for Women and Civil Service
Concluded in: February 2013
Downloads: National report Austria

International Summary

Manual for older women "When partnership becomes unbearable…"

Handbook for police intervention

Police training module


Based on the results of the project "Intimate Partner Violence against older Women" (IPVoW), which was completed in December 2010, "Mind the Gap!" aimed at improving intervention in intimate partner violence against older women. As in IPVoW, organisations from six European countries participated in the study, which was coordinated by ZOOM – Society for Prospective Developments: Institute of Conflict Research (Austria), German Police University and ZOOM (Germany), Academy of Sciences (Hungary), University of Białistok (Poland), CESIS – Centre for Studies for Social Intervention (Portugal) and University of East Anglia (UK).

The study focused on optimising police interventions. In Austria, 82 police case files were analysed which concerned older female victims of partner violence (60 years and older). The analysis showed that age-specific aspects of partner violence often are not perceived/ recognised by the police. Furthermore, these aspects/ factors complicate police interventions in cases of domestic violence – which are generally very complex – even more.

The research work resulted in praxis-oriented materials. On the one hand, a manual for police officers was produced ("Intimate partner violence against older women. Handbook for police interventions"). It offers information on (partner) violence and the realities of life of older victimized women. On this basis, the manual identifies major challenges for police work and aims to sensitize police officers for the most difficult scenarios. In the last section, a list of institutions specialised on the issue of violence against women provides helpful addresses for the intervening police officers, especially if it is deemed necessary to involve care agencies. Also, a training module for police officers was developed and tested in order to support concrete police work.

On the other hand, the project team wrote – in cooperation with Vienna-based women’s and violence protection organisations – a brochure ("When partnership becomes unbearable …") which specifically addresses older women and intends to encourage them to seek support. Finally, a poster with the same title was produced and made available to institutions for the protection against violence, social organisations and the police; it is intended for use in awareness-raising and prevention activities.

All research reports, brochures and other materials (in English and German) are available on the project website.