Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Health Promotion


Mantler, Tara


With the emergence of COVID-19 public health measures including the stay-at-home order, the effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) have become more severe for women while the availability of support has become hampered. The purpose of this interpretive description study was to explore coping among older women in Ontario experiencing IPV during COVID-19. 12 in-depth interviews with older women found age-related normative beliefs played a key role in how older women viewed their lives and how they looked beyond their experiences of IPV. Older women stressed how their roles as caretakers and homemakers influenced their response to IPV and that COVID-19 exacerbated feelings of lost time and loneliness. Emotion-focused coping strategies consisted of social support, and problem-focused included telephone formal services and physical activities. Women expressed a lack of appropriate services and financial limitations as barriers. They identified the need for age-appropriate services that acknowledge their unique experiences.

Summary for Lay Audience

Intimate partner violence impacts over a third of the Canadian population and can affect women at any age. During the COVID-19 pandemic, women reported facing more severe abuse than before the pandemic. This increase in severity of abuse was experienced while many services were shut down and women’s access to past coping mechanisms was limited by the public health restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. This study explored how older women (over the age of 50) who were living with abusive partners during the COVID-19 pandemic coped. Coping is a tactic that helps someone lower the stress that comes with various situations. Through interviews with 12 older women living in Ontario between March and June in 2021 we found that the ways older women were expected to act in society influenced how they viewed themselves and their lives. Women felt they had to take care of their partners/family and/or keep up with their home, which stopped many women from leaving the abusive relationship. Older women mentioned feeling more stressed because time was slipping away from them. Older women were also lonely because of the COVID-19 public health restrictions, as they were unable to leave the house. To manage the stress from the abuse and the COVID-19 pandemic, older women relied on emotional support, from helplines. Older women also reported that support services were hard to access. In future pandemics, older women expressed that it is important there are services designed to help older women.