One topic rarely addressed in the literature on older adults and interpersonal violence is the violence that can be experienced by family carers in relationship with a person living with cognitive impairment. This violence tends to remain hidden and is rarely framed as intimate partner violence. We examine how situations of intimidation and violence invoked fear in family carers and how they interpreted and reacted to these circum- stances. Interview and diary data were collected from family members who had previously or were currently experiencing some form of aggression in caring for someone with cognitive impairment or dementia. Drawing on discussions of fear and applying the analytic lens of defensive strategies, we explore how these carers responded to situations of intimidation and violence.