June 24th 2011: Wednesday June 15th we honoured the Sixth annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) by focusing on an under-reported, silent and insidious form of abuse – the sexual abuse of older women. CARP attended the International Forum on the Sexual Safety of Older Women Conference in Toronto hosted by the International Federal of Aging and Ryerson University in collaboration with the Ontario Senior’s Secretariat, the Ontario Women’s Directorate, the Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA), the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA) and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA).
Experts in victim’s services and aging fields gathered to make available knowledge of best practices in an area they agree is the least observed, acknowledged and reported form of elder abuse. The conference’s main theme remained that of elder abuse but it provide some insight on one its most horrendous incarnations – sexual abuse. In her opening remarks, Conference Co-Chair Elizabeth Podnieks, stated, “as global participation and recognition grows for WEAAD, we move ever closer to realizing the dream of seeing a world free from elder abuse.”
Unfortunately today that dream is nowhere near reality. It struck us that the particulars of elder abuse are often discussed in such settings: speaking to those who work in the field and preaching to the converted. This provides a fantastic opportunity for knowledge exchange that informs our work in grappling with the challenges of aging. It is also a fantastic opportunity to meet many of the front line workers like the wonderful women who staff rape crisis centres and who serve as elder abuse advocates. Armed with new knowledge and a renewed sense of purpose, we leave these conferences with helpful new contacts and feeling motivated as we return to the uphill battle that is the eradication of elder abuse.
On the other hand, we need to share and disseminate these lessons. We need to apply its conclusions to the real world to obtain tangible results. CARP Action Online strives to keep you informed and help you protect yourselves and your loved ones as we keep you apprised of CARP’s our latest advocacy efforts and successes. Given that CARP is Canada’s largest membership and advocacy associations for older persons – we have opted to use our most important communications vehicle to disseminate useful information and articulate our policy recommendations in this area. In this regard, we are able to achieve the same result as a multi million-dollar government funded advertising campaign at no cost to the public pocket!
For the purposes of this Special Issue of CARP Action Online, we have undergone a thorough literature review, updated our reference information, re-examined our positions, provided you with new coverage, new insights and provided you with new resources that will help you arm yourself against this scourge. In the issues of CARP Action Online to follow, we will provide you with follow up installments in the Let’s Get Real About Elder Abuse in 2011 series. In this issue, we get started with:
– Part 2 – The Systems in Place
– Part 3 – Service Gaps and CARP Recommendations
– Part 4 – Helpful Resources List for 2011 (July 15th 2011 issue)
After all, was it not Nelson Mandela who said that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world? On the other hand, he also said that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. This is consistent with our belief that promoting awareness of elder abuse is certainly important but not our end goal and that it is certainly not enough. The following article provides you with a layout of what is happening on the ground and the resources that abuse victims have at their disposal. While we admire the work of everyone who contributes to the anti-elder abuse struggle – CARP believes it is time we get more ambitious and start thinking of June 15th not just as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day but as End World Elder Abuse Day. When we examine what we’ve achieved, let’s get real about elder abuse in 2011. Is the cup half full or is it totally empty? You be the judge.
Up next: Systems in Place (Part 2)
Keywords: elder, sexual, abuse, awareness, prevention