The unspoken side of elder abuse 30



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In Part 1 of this series about elder abuse, we produced a diagram illustrating the types of abuse suffered by seniors and spoke at some length about psychological abuse which represents 42 per cent of abuse cases. The second largest area of reported abuse (33 per cent), financial abuse, was examined in Part 2.

Now in Part 3 we want to give examples of sexual, social, neglect and physical abuse which together are the balance of 23 per cent of the abuses perpetrated against vulnerable seniors.

Clare’s story

Clare phoned the Elder Abuse Helpline because she was upset about the way her son-in-law was treating her and wanted to talk about it confidentially to someone outside her family and group of friends.

Clare had lived in a granny flat adjoining her daughter and son-in-law’s house for about a year and had been happy with the arrangement until a few months previously when her son-in-law had started calling in to see her, unannounced and alone, mostly when her daughter was out. During these visits, he would create some excuse for pulling her close to him or cuddling her and had sometimes touched her in a way that she felt was inappropriate.

She had tried to ignore it and wanted to stop it but there were so many complicating factors that she didn’t know how to go about doing so. She felt embarrassed and was concerned about the impact that speaking out would have on her relationship with her daughter, grandchildren and other family members, as well as her living arrangements. She said she couldn’t sell the granny flat, or afford to buy or rent another place to live. Clare didn’t want the current situation to continue but felt the options for addressing it were limited.


Dorothy’s story

A woman who wished to remain anonymous phoned the Elder Abuse Helpline about her neighbour Dorothy, a 78-year-old woman on a war widow’s pension. Dorothy’s 23-year-old grandson Peter, a violent drug-user, had moved in about six months before and the neighbour had heard him shouting fiercely at Dorothy and threatening her.

The caller also mentioned that Dorothy no longer chatted over the fence, was rarely seen outside the house and seemed physically frailer and very nervous.


Peter and Geoff’s story

Peter is a cleaner and gardener who contacted the Elder Abuse Helpline because he was concerned about his elderly client, Geoff.

Geoff was a fit, active 92-year-old who shared his house with his son John. Although Geoff was friendly and liked a chat, John seldom spoke. He didn’t seem to like Geoff and Peter conversing either, or being together, and would often appear while they were talking and stand waiting until they finished.

One day, Peter was at the house doing some mowing and noticed a large nasty-looking bruise on Geoff’s arm. When Peter asked about it in concern, Geoff yelled at him and ordered him off the premises.


Ray’s story

The manager of a residential aged care facility contacted the Elder Abuse Helpline to discuss a situation that had arisen with Ray, a 75-year-old resident at the facility. Following his wife’s death, Ray had joined a gay club which he visited once or twice a week. Although Roy had decision-making capacity, his son and daughter were managing his financial affairs through an Enduring Power of Attorney that also covered his personal and health affairs.

They had found out about their father’s membership of the club through his credit card bills and had instructed the residential facility, via a lawyer’s letter, to stop Ray from going there. When the matter was discussed with Ray, he was open about his sexual orientation and said he wanted to continue visiting the club and could afford the costs involved.

In each of the cases above, the Elder Abuse Helpline was able to advise the caller what options are available to them. You will note that an anonymous complaint is given the same credence as calls where the name is the caller is known. Trust your Instincts, if you or someone you know is a victim of any of these, or other, types of abuse, this is the time to tell someone, seek help. Speak out please, you don’t have to see it to believe it.


There is someone you can talk to, all states have an Elder Abuse Helpline:

Queensland – 1300 651 192

New South Wales – 1800 628 881

ACT (Canberra) – (02) 6242 5060

Victoria – 1300 368 821

Tasmania – (03) 6237 0047

South Australia – (08) 8232 5377

Western Australia – 1300 724 679

Northern Territory – 1800 037 072


Much of the information provided in this blog is freely available under Creative Commons, and is used with sincere thanks to, and acknowledgement of, the authors.

Full versions of the above stories are available at The Queensland Government website link here.


Karen OBrien Hall

Karen O'Brien-Hall followed many careers in her life and loved each one! From accountancy to the hospitality industry, from managing an employment agency to Executive Assistant to the Chairman of a multi-national, when she retired Karen was in Public Relations. Whatever her career path at the time, Karen is a lifelong volunteer. Married to "the love of my life", John, her second love is community theatre where she enjoys acting and directing. Karen enjoys time in her garden and can always finds time to read, around 8 – 10 books a month. Her reviews appear on Starts at Sixty, Goodreads,The Reading Room and her own page

  1. Thank goodness these days there is such places like this help line that people can contact for help or advice, in the past there was nowhere for people to turn to for help, saw the show on current affair last night about the woman (of our age) & what she had been doing to her father, loved that the granddaughter realised what was going on & got him out of there & will now have to face the consequences, I think it is a good thing that these days it’s being spoken about & hopefully people will be helped..good work posting this contact information.

  2. I have been verbally sexually abused and stalked by a resident of the facility where I live at present. I have put in two written complaints to the manager who has passed them onto his boss. The ‘man’ involved is agresssive to staff and other residents. He was caught putting his hands up old ladies dresses. This male knows what he’s doing and saying as he stops if someone is coming. My point is where do the rapists, pedos and partner bashers go to when they are old and infirm? They all end up in nursing homes….and I bet there is no criminal checks done….

    9 REPLY
    • It is so good you have brought this up Marg as you never really think of that. Maybe they should think of doing criminal checks.

    • I think thats disgusting that you go through this. He should be arrested, charged , and locked up in prison as far as l am concerned. Dont put up with it tell the police before matters really get out of hand.

    • Police first and whenever he is near someone step In and loudly ask what is he doing. Embarrass him make people aware he is around. And keep putting complaints in don’t give up these people need to be confronted. They are creeps who belong in jail.

    • You need to go to the police. He could be doing this to young girls as well. He will be charged and go to trial. If found guilty he will get the same sentence as anyone else committing these crimes.
      The police should have been your first point of call as he has committed a criminal act.

    • Ruth he can’t get to young girls as he’s a resident in a high care nursing home. There were no checks done on me re entering this care facility. The PA Hospital would not give me my radiation treatment for brain cancer if I refused to be in care….

  3. How sad and terrifying for the patients, they need cameras so the ‘man’ gets caught and removed from the nursing home !

  4. It’s really good that you are putting these articles up to make people aware of the different kinds of Elder abuse that is going on.

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