People experiencing elder abuse regularly hide the abuse in an effort to protect family members from distress and conflict. Abuse can carry on for years, with adult children unaware that their elderly mother or father is being subjected to violence and intimidation. The strong desire of parents to shield their children from their problems, unfortunately, works to undermine their own wellbeing.
Geoffrey was protecting his adult daughter from the abuse he was experiencing from his son and her brother Michael. Geoffrey and Michael lived together in a house owned by the daughter for years and every day Michael belittled and swore at Geoffrey and threatened physical harm. When Geoffrey sought help from Caxton’s Seniors Legal and Support Service our social worker and lawyer worked with him in a confidential way to develop a safety plan and prepare an application for a domestic violence protection order.
Queensland’s domestic and family violence laws apply to abuse between parents and their adult children. Domestic violence includes verbal attacks, threats, intimidation, and repeated derogatory taunts. A Protection Order can be made to stop this behaviour and also to remove the abusive person from the house where the aggrieved person is living. Geoffrey was entitled to this type of protection.
However, as Geoffrey was on the cusp of submitting the domestic violence order application, he changed his mind and decided not to do so as he didn’t want to cause a rift within the family. Unfortunately, this meant that Geoffrey’s abusive living situation was ongoing which negatively impacted his emotional state to the point where he was admitted to hospital. The hospital team refused to discharge Geoffrey, once he was well because he would again be subject to abuse at home by Michael.
The Caxton team arranged an urgent visit to Geoffrey at the hospital once informed of this. We organised a meeting between health professionals at the hospital, Geoffrey and his daughter. As a result of this meeting, his daughter requested that her brother leave the property in two weeks. As Geoffrey had nowhere to stay post-discharge Caxton arranged for him to obtain emergency respite accommodation which we were able to pay for from the Vera Raymer Fund, and negotiated a significant fee reduction for the care. We also arranged an urgent visit to Geoffrey from the Aged Care Assessment Team help him access subsidised care services suitable for him to receive at home.
Geoffrey expressed his gratitude and informed Caxton that after years he felt he finally had peace. In an email to us, his support person wrote:
“Thank you both for all your help and assistance with this and especially to SLASS for delving into its Vera Raymer Fund, your help and guidance for Geoffrey has been quite incredible and so much appreciated – he certainly wouldn’t be where he is today, safe and sound, without your help and guidance, so a very big thank you.”