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Elder abuse: The hidden crime

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Why do people often not report elder abuse?

Some victims do not report abuse because:

  • they are afraid of what the abuser will do if they report
  • they are completely under the control of the abuser and depend on the abuser for food, housing, clothing, and health care
  • they are afraid they will be put in an institution
  • they are ashamed to tell anyone that a family member is assaulting them or stealing their money
  • they think that the police and social agencies cannot help them

Sometimes family, friends, or health and social service providers do not report when they suspect elder abuse because:

  • they do not know who to speak to
  • they do not know what can be done
  • they do not want to get involved
  • the older person asks them not to report it

There are other reasons why people who provide help or services to clients in their own homes may not report elder abuse. For example:

  • they may believe that they have a confidential relationship with their client and cannot tell anyone else about what happens in the client's home
  • they do not know that assault, theft, or serious neglect in the family or in a long-term care home is a crime
  • they might be afraid of the abuser
  • they might believe that the police cannot help because the older person would not be able to testify in court
  • they might think nothing can be done because the older person might deny the abuse is happening