Abused seniors turn to
by Brennan Smith - Dec. 8, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
C.J. suffered domestic abuse throughout her
In 2005, she fled her husband in Indiana
and came to the Valley.
The then-62-year-old seemed to have no
place to turn - most domestic-violence
programs and shelters serve younger
women with children.
C.J. lived at Phoenix Sky Harbor International
Airport and in downtown buildings while she
desperately sought assistance. She was
finally referred to the Area Agency on
Aging's DOVES program, which provides
services for older people who are victims of
domestic violence and have run out of
Alice Ghareib, director of DOVES (Domestic
Violence Does Not Respect Age), said older
women are not eligible for assistance
through organizations designed for younger
abused women with children.
"This population, there are no services for
them. There are no other options," Ghareib
said. "The issues of the older population are
unique. We need to be able to provide
services across the board no matter what
the age is."
DOVES helps about 150 senior domestic-
abuse victims yearly with transitional
housing and support groups, while also
"Just because couples turn 50, it doesn't
mean domestic violence goes away," Ghareib
C.J., now 67, said she had endured abuse
most of her life as her husband mentally and
verbally belittled her. Her husband is now
dead, but The Republic is withholding her
full identity to protect her safety.
"Verbal abuse for me, being naive, started at
the beginning of the marriage, and as the
years went by, it got worse and worse," C.J.
said. "I thought I was worth nothing."
In August 2005, she said, her husband
pushed her up against the bathroom wall
and the sink. He began cursing her and
choking her. Finally, she got away to a
friend's house. She decided that night she
The next morning, she took a flight to
Arizona with $75 in her pocket and a bag of
clothes and arrived with nowhere to stay.
DOVES took her in. She was given temporary
housing and began attending support group meetings.
Victims also receive assistance applying for
public benefits, pursuing legal action and
purchasing basic necessities.
The program costs around $350,000
annually and is largely supported by
community and business donations, Ghareib
Season for Sharing has raised about
$30,000 for the program since 2007. It is
one of more than 130 agencies or programs
supported by the annual campaign, which
last year raised $2.86 million to assist
Arizonans in need.
"I can't say enough about the DOVES
program," C.J. said. "If it hadn't been for
them, I don't know where I would be right
now. I really don't."
Asked what advice she would give to a
woman who was suffering the same abuse
she went through, C.J. said she would tell the
woman that it isn't her fault.
"I don't care what you did or what you do,
abuse is never justified," C.J. said. "I would
tell them you have that right to leave, but
only you can make that decision."
Senior-abuse victims are encouraged to call
DOVES at 602-264-4357 for help.