How You Can Recognize Abuse Abuse happens in different ways, and usually becomes worse if there is no help of some kind. Older adults often experience more than one form of abuse. All abuse is serious and causes harm.
1. Financial Abuse
My granddaughter moved in with me some time ago. I asked her to leave because she used my bank card to take money from my account a couple of times. She said she has no place to go. I feel guilty and let her stay, but I am afraid she will do it again. My younger sister lives with me since her husband died. I have worked hard and saved money for many years. She has threatened to end our relationship if I don’t write a new will that leaves all of my savings to her.
Last week, my son-in-law asked me to sign a power of attorney so that he could help with my affairs. He disagrees with the way I manage my money, and I have heard him tell my daughter that he thinks I am getting senile. I am a little afraid of him.
It is financial abuse if somebody tricks, threatens, or persuades older adults out of their money, property or possessions. Sometimes the abuser might influence or force the abused to change their will, sign a power of attorney, or the abuser might cash cheques without their knowledge.
2. Psychological Abuse
I don’t have a big family and have outlived most of my friends. My niece is the only family member I see regularly. She says I’m lazy and should be thankful
that she takes time to visit me. My husband controls my every move. He tells me I am “too stupid” to make decisions or handle money. He won’t let me see my friends anymore. My wife laughs at me in front of people because I can’t manage zippers and buttons without her help. She tells people that I am “worse than a child” and that she would never let herself be so helpless.
It is psychological abuse if somebody threatens, insults, intimidates or humiliates an older adult, treats the person like a child, or does not allow them to see their family and friends.
3. Spiritual or Religious Abuse
My daughter-in-law tells me that my spiritual tradition is “ridiculous” and she has convinced my son not to let my grandchildren come to ceremony with me any longer. My children are angry that I have made some large donations to a religious organization I support. I have overheard them say that they should “do something” to keep me away from the “religious fanatics.” These people are not fanatics—they are my friends.
My brother doesn’t want me to go to church anymore. I am afraid to disobey him, but the fellowship and my faith are important to me.
It is spiritual or religious abuse when someone limits or restricts the spiritual practices, customs or traditions of an older adult. Abuse also includes using an older adult’s beliefs to exploit the person, attacking the person’s beliefs, or not allowing the person to participate in religious events and activities.
4. Sexual Abuse
My husband has always been very controlling. He has never hit me, but lately he pressures me for sex. He won’t let me sleep until I give in. My neighbour is a widower who brings my groceries because we both live so far out of town. Since my husband died he has started hugging and touching me even though I ask him not to. He calls it his “delivery fee.”
My nephew and his girlfriend live with me. They have sex anywhere they please and don’t close the door even when I am home. I have asked them repeatedly to be more private, but they laugh at me and call me a prude.
It is sexual abuse if somebody forces an older adult to engage in sexual activity. This may include verbal or suggestive behaviour, not respecting personal privacy, and sexual intercourse.
My son suffered a brain injury when he was young and he has lived with me his whole life. He does help more now that I am no longer able to get around very well, but my daughter expects him to do everything and he just can’t. She lives nearby but is very busy. I haven’t been able to get out for groceries for over a week this time. My friend and I have lived together for ten years. My knees are bad and I haven’t been able to share the chores of the house recently. She is angry about this and refuses to clean my part of the house or prepare food for me. She hasn’t spoken to me in three weeks. I don’t speak English very well and have no one else to talk to.
I live in the basement of my brother’s house. He is very successful and travels a lot. When he goes away he locks me in. He says he is afraid that I will wander off. Even though he leaves food and things to read, I get very depressed if he is gone for more than a couple of days.
Neglect occurs when someone withholds care, food and/or emotional support that an older adult is unable to provide for himself or herself. Sometimes people providing are do not have the necessary knowledge, experience or ability.
6. Physical Abuse
My husband pulls my hair when he is angry and yells that I don’t listen to him. He has always yelled at me, but he never used to hurt me. I am not as independent as I used to be. I need help with certain tasks. My daughter helps me, but I am ashamed to admit that sometimes she shakes me and even hits me. My younger brother and I live together. He has always had a temper. Recently when he was drinking, he pushed me against the wall a couple of times.
It is physical abuse if somebody hits an older adult or handles the person roughly, even if there is no injury.
This information is provided through a public education campaign, provided by the Canadian Government through a ‘Neighborhood, Friends and Families‘ website.