Elder abuse is a form of domestic and family violence, and, like all domestic and family violence, it is about power and control. Elder abuse occurs when someone the older person knows and trusts causes them harm. The abuser could be a partner, child or grandchild, other family member, friend or neighbour.
It’s not uncommon for the older person to be dependent on the abuser (eg. they may rely on them for care); or for the abuser to be dependent on support of the older person (eg. for accommodation). In many cases, the abuser is not in a direct caring role. The older person may themselves be providing care for the person using violence (eg. an elderly mother providing care for an abusive son or daughter).
It is important is to remember that there is never any excuse for abuse. Elder abuse is not ok. It is not your fault. And it is against the law.
At DVCS we support everyone—regardless of age, gender or background—affected by domestic and family violence. If you, or someone you know, are experiencing elder abuse we are here to help and we encourage you to contact us.
What is domestic and family violence
Domestic and family violence is when someone intentionally uses violence, threats, force or intimidation to control or manipulate a family member, partner or former partner. It does not have to occur within the home or between people who are living together.
The violence is intentional and systematic and often increases in frequency and severity the longer the relationship goes on. It is about power and control and it is intended to cause fear.
Elder abuse can include lots of different types of abuse:
- Emotional or psychological abuse: being called names or being put down, using threats, denying access to ‘small pleasures’, talking about ‘how hard it is to provide care’ in front of the older person..
- Neglect: failing to provide the basic necessities of life, withholding medication, personal (hygiene) or medical care, using medication to sedate, removing wheelchairs or walkers, receiving the career’s pension without providing the care.
- Financial abuse: using someone’s money, property or other assets illegally or improperly, forcing someone to change their will or sign documents, using a power of attorney to withhold money or misuse finances, not allowing the person to keep or carry their own money.
- Physical abuse: hitting, slapping, pushing or using restraints, providing care in a rough or cruel manner.
- Social abuse: forcing someone to become isolated by restricting their access to others including family, friends or services.
- Sexual Abuse: any sexual activity for which the person has not consented, withholding needed care in exchange for sexual favours.
- Pets: harming or threatening harm towards pets.
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. You might feel you have done something wrong, or something to cause the violence or abuse. This is not true. Violence and abuse is never ok. It is against the law. You might:
- feel unsafe in your home
- blame yourself for the abuse
- feel like you’re walking on egg shells
- jump at every little sound
- feel like you’re waiting for an explosion
- feel you have to ask permission to do anything or spend money.
Remember these things
If you are worried you, or someone close to you, is being abused please remember:
- Threats, and physical and sexual violence are all illegal.
- The abuser might blame you, or make you feel responsible, ashamed or guilty.
- You are not to blame for someone else’s actions. What they have done is wrong. It is not your fault and it is against the law.
- The ACT law offers the same protection to victims of elder abuse as it does to any other victim of domestic and family violence.
- Our supporting someone page contains advice on what you can do to help someone you are worried about.
Need to talk?
If you or someone you know is in a life-threatening situation please call the police on 000.
To access our crisis intervention services call our 24/7 crisis telephone line 02 6280 0900. If it isn’t urgent another contact option is to email firstname.lastname@example.org; the email is only monitored during business hours. You are welcome to call us reverse charges. If you live outside the ACT please call 1800RESPECT.
We do not make any sound recordings of our conversations. You do not need to give us your name, but if you do we make notes that we spoke to you. If you are unsure, please let us know at the start of the call and we can tell you about our confidentiality policy.
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