In reporting elder abuse cases, it is often extremely difficult to get proof that abuses occurred to someone who lives in a private home.
It is definitely easier to prove physical abuse and blatant neglect than to try to prove subtle neglect and emotional/psychological abuse.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to stop or discourage people from reporting, but just to share some experiences with others.
It might be easier if I take a case to demonstrate that caution must be exercised in reporting elder abuse.
The Frank Punito Case (pls. note that that is not the person’s real name)is one that comes to mind. Documentary evidence, of different media, were apparently in the hands of the author of that site. The victim’s permission was obtained before the site was put up. Furthermore, I was informed that witnesses testimony could be acquired, if needed.
However, that site owner/author has been strongly criticized recently.
To quote the author of that site:
“The main reason for the site is that it is an unbelievable case. Furthermore, in spite of all the proofs and testimonies available from the victim and witnesses, no one could help.
The abusers have the legal “trump card” called “Enduring Power of Attorney”.
Frankly, nobody really cares because the case was also bound up in a property settlement.”
(There must be changes in our laws to better protect older persons in our society. )
The sad thing about this case is that, the property settlement is over and Frank has been “removed” from the abuses. Now everyone expected the victim to just carry on as though nothing ever happened. Instead of giving support to the one who reported the case, there are those who said that the story should not be told and left on the site.
There were accusations of “an agenda” and “lies and deceits”.
A challenge by the author of that site, for the accuser to indicate which parts of the site are “lies and deceits” has not been responded to up till now.
What is ‘Emotional and Psychological’ Elder Abuse?
Simply put, it is:
Name-calling, "Silent treatment", Intimidate or threaten the individual; invoke fear or mental anguish; cause emotional pain or distress.
Elder Abuse and Neglect is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust,which causes harm or distress to an older person. It can be of various forms:
physical, psychological/emotional, sexual, or financial/material abuse, and/or
intentional or unintentional neglect.
( Definition from Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2002)
As you can see from the above, that it is extremely difficult to report a EA case of that category.
- Be prepared to be criticized;
- Make sure you have the facts right;
- Make sure you have the victim's permission and support to reveal the facts;
- Make copies of documentary evidence;
- Videos and photos are great ways of keeping records and evidence.
- Ensure you have the support of others. You cannot do it alone!
Remember, it can be a thankless task. But, please do not be discouraged.
I am helping to publicize this growing global problem because I strongly believe that we have the right to be treated as human beings - with respect and dignity. Any forms of abuses in our old age is not acceptable. Any forms of abuses are NOT acceptable!
I will continue, for as long as possible, to highlight and disseminate information on this issue.
Please give your support to others who are in the same situation. We must be united in this cause -- empowering older persons with information.