Living in An Unsafe Environment
The World Health Organization defines abuse of older adults as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring in any relationship where there is an expectation of trust that causes harm or distress to an older person”. Elder abuse can take place in the home, in other residential settings, or in the community.
Abuse of Older Persons
- Doesn’t need to be labelled “elder abuse” to be that
- Abuse occurs in systems when the law is not followed
- Abuse occurs when misinformation about rights / responsibilities is given out
- Abuse may occur where there is abuse of power/ undue influence
- Service providers may contribute to abuse when they give authority to Attorneys or POAs or to others that actually don’t have the authority to make the decisions being asked.
- The abuse is not your fault.
- You do not deserve to be abused.
- Many types of abuse are against the law; all types of abuse are NOT ACCEPTABLE.
- Abuse is not tolerated in any culture or religion.
- You have the right to live without fear.
- You have the right to have control over your life.
- You cannot control the abusive person’s behaviour.
- Abuse often gets worse over time.
- You have the right to be safe and secure.
Things to pack and to consider while living in the abusive environment:
- Call 911 if in immediate danger, leave the phone off the hook after the call is made and make a lot of noise
- Get a cell phone, keep it charged, and program numbers in speed dial
- Create a code word or signal (e.g., front porch light off at night or on during the day to signal distress) with a trusted friend, relative or neighbour to signal distress and ask them to call 911 if they think you are in danger
- Open your own bank account at a different bank and/or branch than is used by the abuser
- Keep your bank and credit cards safe and do not tell anyone what your PIN is
- Ensure that no sensitive mail (e.g., mail from your bank or lawyer) is sent to your home – consider having it sent to a trusted friend or relative
- Ask a third party, such as a neighbour, who witnesses the abuse to write and store notes as evidence
- If needed, identify someone who can help you with transportation and accompany you to appointments
Things to pack and to consider before leaving the abusive environment:
- Emergency numbers are originals/copies of important documents which may include: marriage certificate, recent bank statements, passport, birth certificate, lease agreement, house deed, insurance papers
- Medications, prescriptions, glasses or mobility devices
- A picture of the abuser and the abuser’s license plate number to show police, neighbours, etc.
- Extra clothing
- Photographs of abuse such as bruises or cuts, as well as bank records if available, to show patterns of withdrawal you did not make
- Emergency money ($10-$20, change for payphone), cheque book, debit, credit health and drug cards
- If applicable, cell phone/laptop/tablet and chargers
Put together an emergency kit, which might include:
- Emergency phone numbers written out and stored in a safe place
- Emergency money (for a taxi, hotel etc). This should include quarters for phone calls or a phone card
- Extra clothing
- A list of medications, name and phone number of pharmacy and at least three days worth of medications
- Glasses, hearing aides and other assistive devices such as cane, walker, wheelchair
Keep copies of relevant documents in your emergency kit and stored somewhere safe such as a friend’s house, including:
- Identification (i.e. birth certificate)
- Marriage certificate or record of common law relationship
- Notice of assessment from most recent income tax return
- Cheque books and credit cards
- Lease, rental agreement, or house deed
- Bankbook and recent statements
- Health card
- Social Insurance Number
- House, car, and safety deposit box keys
- Immigration Papers
What You Can Do to Help Keep Yourself Safe from Abuse
Abuse happens to people of all ages from all walks of life. By staying involved with people and activities, you are less likely to be abused. Staying active also helps you stay healthy. There are some things you can do to look after your physical and emotional health and well-being.
- Stay connected. Be in regular contact with people who support you and respect your decisions.
- Get involved. Find places in your community that offer activities and events where you can meet people with similar interests.
- Have fun. Do things that give you enjoyment, strength and comfort.
- Stay physically active. Keep moving and eat regularly and well.
- Get support. If you feel depressed, scared or alone, talk to a friend, faith leader or social service agency. You don’t have to be alone with your problems. It’s okay to reach out and ask for help.
IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO – DON’T LET ANYONE PRESSURE YOU INTO ANYTHING