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Elder abuse: The hidden crime

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What can the police do?

If you have been abused, or if you think someone else is being abused, tell the police.

Even if you think the incident is not very significant, calling the police is an important part of protecting yourself or being a good friend or neighbour.

The operator might ask for your telephone number and name so that they can get more information from you in the future, or to check some facts. But if you want to remain anonymous, they will not tell anyone that you called, including the victim or the person you suspect is abusive.

The police can investigate the report. This might include getting:

  • a detailed signed statement from the victim
  • statements from neighbours, other family members, or service providers who might have evidence
  • photographs of any injuries
  • a medical report
  • statements from anyone who knows about past abuse, for example, hospital staff

If the police believe that a crime has been committed, they can lay charges. Some victims of elder abuse may not be physically or mentally able to do this on their own. And some victims are more likely to be okay with their abuser being charged if the police do it instead of them.

Victims who are concerned about what will happen to their abuser can ask the police for information about this. This might help them be more willing to co-operate with the police.

Help for victims

Victims of elder abuse who are asked to testify in court may be able to get help and support from a lawyer or from the Victim/Witness Assistance Program. They can ask the police to help them get in touch with the Program if it is available in their area.

The Victim Support Line is an information line availablein several languages that provides services, such as:

  • information and referrals to support services
  • recorded information about the criminal justice system

Call toll-free 1-888-579-2888. In the Toronto area, call 416-314-2447.