July 14th 2013: Since June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and since the last elder abuse poll we conducted in 2011 found that 25% of CARP Action Online readers know someone who has been abused. This article includes a list of resources for victims of abuse or for people who know someone who has been abused.
It also provides resources and tips for helping and speaking with someone who you believe could be a victim of abuse someone. The most important thing to remember if that if you are in danger, you MUST CALL 911.
Numbers You Can Call/How to Find Help if You or Someone You Know is Being Abused
One of the best ways to find help is to go to the Department of Justice’s Family Violence Victims Services website and search the directory. The search tool allows you to search for a specific kind of service in your area and will provide you with the contact information for reputable services. You do not have to know exactly what you are looking for, you just have to know what kind of abuse you are dealing with. You can access the directory at this address: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/pcvi-cpcv/links-liens.html
If you suspect you may know of a fraud or scam notify the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre at 1-888-495-8801 or call the National Call Centre for Phonebusters 1-800-495-8501. If someone comes to your home or tries to impersonate a government or city official, you should make a police report.
Crime Stoppers is a civilian, non profit, charitable organization that brings together in a triparte relationship, the police services of a community, the media and the community in the fight against crime. Crime Stoppers provides citizens with a vehicle to anonymously supply the police with information about a crime or potential crime of which they have knowledge. Cash rewards are offered to people who call the program and their information leads to an arrest. To contact them dial 1-800-222-8477 or visit their website: http://www.canadiancrimestoppers.org
The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA) has partnered up with Ontario 211. They will still provide provides 24 hours a day, seven-day-a-week assistance, in 150 languages but now through Ontario 211 – a broader range of services will available. Just dial 2-1-1. ONPEA’s website has community response unit contacts, regional police special constable contacts and regional elder abuse coalition/networks contacts.
If you have legal inquiries, the Attorney General also offers a Victim Support Line which is a multilingual, toll-free information line providing a range of services to victims of crime. They offer information and referral to support services in your community, pre-recorded information about the criminal justice system and access to information about provincially sentenced offenders. You can also register for automated notification when an offender’s status changes.
You can call the Victim Support Line toll-free at 1-888-579-2888 or 416-314-2447 in the Toronto area. The service is available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Kerby Rotary House in Calgary is the first and only full service shelter in Canada for abused seniors. It offers safe, secure shelter to older men or women over 60 years of age in Calgary and area, who are experiencing family abuse in their lives. The shelter provides crisis intervention, support, advocacy, referral, short-term housing and the necessities of daily. Unfortunately there are not enough shelters like Kerby House and specialized services such as this are not yet widely available. You can get in touch with Kerby House by calling (403) 265-0661.
ELDER ABUSE/EXPERT ASESSMENT TOOLS
The Caregiver Abuse Screen Test
Elder abuse by a caregiver is sometimes attributed to caregiver stress. Although stress is NEVER an excuse to abuse an elder, if someone you know/a family member is a caregiver and you believe they might be overextended, it may be a good idea to address this and to help them find respite options. The Caregiver Abuse Screen (CASE) is a screening tool for detecting abuse of seniors. It is intended for use with caregivers of seniors, whether or not abuse is suspected. The “Yes” responses on each of the eight CASE items may stimulate discussion that reveals abuse and/or neglect that might otherwise have gone undetected.
In addition to indicating current abuse by caregivers, caregiver responses to CASE may be indicative of tendencies and stresses that could lead to possible abuse in the future. In such cases, a proactive approach to intervention may help prevent the development of abuse. To download the CASE checklist, click here
The Indicators of Abuse (IOA) Index
The Indicators of Abuse (IOA) index is another assessment tool that has been developed by experts to signal mistreatment of seniors. The IOA (pronounced Iowa) also helps sensitize the practitioner to important abuse issues. The IOA is practical for busy practitioners and useful to interveners and volunteers in cases of abuse to recognize the signs of abuse. The IOA is a summary of high-risk signals of abuse. It is not, however, a substitute for becoming knowledgeable about abuse signs through education. To download the IOA checklist, click here
Some Practical Tips to Protect Yourself from Financial Abuse
NEVER GIVE YOUR IDENTIFYING INFORMATION. Do not give out your Social Security number, date of birth, telephone number, driver’s licence, health card or passport number to anyone who comes to the door or over the phone.
NEVER GIVE INFORMATION THAT PROVIDES ACCESS TO YOUR ASSETS Do not give your credit card, ATM or bank account number or bank name.
NEVER REVEAL YOUR TOTAL ASSETS How to avoid these questions? Stall or tell a “white” lie: Say, “I can’t remember”, “my children handle all of that”. Or offer to get the information, “Let me call my son, he works for the (insert local precinct) Police Department and handles all my affairs. Come back/call back tomorrow and I will ask him to give you the information directly.”
(This isn’t rude and there is nothing “stupid” about it…in fact this is a “smart” way to be sure that people who are asking personal information are entitled to receive it.)
HERE ARE THE FIVE RULES OF PERSONAL SAFETY:
1. You do not have to answer the door.
2. You do not have to answer the phone.
3. You do not have to answer anyone’s questions.
4. You do not have to listen to someone talk…you can end the conversation by closing the door or hanging up the phone even while they are talking.
5. You do not have to “be nice”, especially when someone is being pushy.
Dealing with Abuse/Speaking and Dealing with Victims of Abuse
Disclaimer: the guidelines discussed in this article come from a variety of sources that are mostly unavailable online. Sources are listed at the end of the article. Please note that some of these sources are intended for professional audiences (adult protective services workers, forensic interviews, advocates, therapist etc.) While we believe you may benefit from knowledge of these guidelines they are in no way a substitute for professional help and for police involvement. Please consult local authorities before and or while attempting these approaches or if you have reason to suspect someone is being abused.
Trying to Shed Light on Abuse – Speaking with A Potential Victim
There are fewer more delicate situations than suspecting that someone you know is a victim of abuse. And yet there is a moral, and sometimes legal imperative to intervene and to prevent further harm. Before you broach this subject with a family member, a friend or an acquaintance, here is a checklist to help you wade through the treacherous waters of abuse and its consequences:
The victim may have ambivalent feelings about the offender, including love, dependence and loyalty. The abuser is most likely to be a family member or friend. The victim often does not want to involve police or get the person into trouble, and may be very afraid. Do not make your support conditional on initiating a police complaint. Remember that this person has already had to deal with a tremendous loss of control and dignity; it is best for the person to feel that he or she has some say in how the situation is handled. Sometimes there are alternative paths of conflict resolution that take into account the victim’s wishes. This being said, you should do your due diligence by consulting experts like the police, crisis workers, adult protective services and determining if you have a duty to report the abuse.
Be mindful of the abused person’s gender and comfort level. If, for instance, you suspect that a female friend is being abused, think about whether she might be more comfortable talking to a woman about it than to a man. The personal may also become very uncomfortable when discussing abuse. Do not be crude, and make all possible efforts to preserve the person’s dignity—even in the face of the abuse.
It is best to ask questions away from the place where you suspect the abuse is happening. The person may be afraid to speak up if there is a chance of being overheard by the abuser or someone who will relay the information. Sometimes even the act of leaving the place of abuse can embolden the victim by opening up the idea of other options. A person who feels stuck in the location where he or she is experiencing the abuse is oppressed by these feelings. An ideal location would feel safe and offer privacy.
When asking questions, try to avoid leading the person. Try to avoid using questions that begin with “why”. Try to stick to open ended questions that are based on previous disclosures and observations. For example, instead of asking: “The last time we talked, you told me that sometimes your step-son is not very nice to you. Do you mean that he is abusive?” ask something like: “The last time we talked, you told me that sometimes your step-son is not very nice to you. What else can you tell me about this situation?” After you have spoken to your friend/relative take detailed notes of the exchange and remember to include all relevant dates. This may become important if the police needs to get involved—it could provide valuable evidence.
If the victim denies the assault: at this point it is very important that you remain calm. DO NOT express judgment, anger, or other emotions towards either the victim or the offender. This will only increase the victim’s agitation. Tell the person you are concerned about their safety. If the victim becomes angry or overly anxious, ask if you can come back another day.
If the potential victim has speech and/or language limitations, ask “YES”, “NO” or “PASS” questions using large cards. Ask the person to point to the answer if they can, otherwise to nod. Anatomical drawings can be used to elicit details for nonverbal answers.
If abuse has occurred, be aware that this most likely means that your friend, family members is at high risk for a repeat incident. Statistics tell us that if an assault has taken place, the likelihood of subsequent assaults is even greater. Most occur when one is alone with the perpetrator. Therefore, always have at least two persons present. Although this is not fool-proof, as two may collude in the assault, it is much less likely.
Make sure that those providing direct service and their supervisors or agency are aware of their abuse-detection and reporting responsibilities and that they implement them. Let them know that you (parent/family/advocate/conservator) are aware and are monitoring the situation.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU ARE ASSAULTED
During an assault, if it is possible to escape, yell, resist or protest, do so. In most cases, this is not possible. The essential goal is to survive. Cooperate with the perpetrator to reduce the danger of increased physical violence.
During the assault, try to focus on noticing everything possible. The location, identity of the perpetrator, anything he says, what he does, any smells, sounds, sights. This is your power. Notice and remember all you can. Your power lies AFTER the assault.
1. As soon as possible, tell a person who can and will help you contact the police.
2. Do not shower, clean up or change clothes.
3. Make sure the police are called immediately.
4. Tell your story to the police when they meet with you. Tell them all that you noticed during the assault, and how you felt. The police often provide a specialist who is sensitive to your situation and experienced at questioning and supporting victims, when available.
5. Be proud of yourself for doing all that is possible in such circumstances.
6. Get a referral to seek counseling
Read All of the Columns from the Let’s Get Real About Elder Abuse in 2011 Series
Acknowledgement of Sources
Ramsey-Klawsnik, Holly.Interviewing Elders for Suspected Sexual Abuse: Guideline and Techniques. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect. 5(1): 5-18. 1993.
Florida Council Against Vio- lence: http://www.fcasv.org/2005_Web/Elderlawtrain.htm
Burgess, A. (2006). Elderly Sexual Abuse Victims and their Offenders, Final Report. US Depart- ment of Justice. Retrieved on April 28, 2008 from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/ grants/216550.pdf.
Delagammatikas, L. (2006). Proposal: Providing advanced training regarding the sexual abuse of vulnerable adults to Adult Protective Workers. Unpublished paper. San Diego State.
Fact sheet prepared by Julie Riley-Harrison, Adult Protective Services Training Project Intern with edit and design assistance from Krista Brown, APS Training Project Coordinator. The APS Training Project is a program of the Bay Area Academy/San Francisco State University. ©July 2008. For more information about the APS Training Project, please visit www.baa-aps.org.
ElderAbuse Listserv from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) for the latest news stories highlighting elder and dependent adult abuse and neglect. http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/NCEAroot/Main_Site/ Resources/NCEA_Listserve/ How_to_Subscribe.aspx
VIDEO: “VICTIMS WITH DISABILITIES: THE FORENSIC IN- TERVIEW””, Executive Producer, Nora J. Baladerian, Ph.D. Available from U.S. Department of Justice, NCJRS. Includes Training Guide and references.
Elder Safety Card Rev 06.doc © Baladerian 1995
Abuse and Neglect of Adults with Developmental Disabilities:A Public Health Priority for the State of California: A report of: Protection and Advocacy, Inc. State Council on Developmental Disabilities USC University Affiliated Program The Tarjan Center for Developmental Disabilities, UCLA August 2003 PAI Publication #7019.01
Keywords: elder, abuse