Elder abuse refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. This may include physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse, neglect, or abandonment.*
Within the South Asian community, there is silence surrounding this issue for the following reasons:**
- Economic and legal (immigration) dependency
- Often abusers are their own children and the elders feel it reflects on their own parental skills
- Fear of abandonment in the home country. Limited laws in the home country to protect the rights of older women, particularly regarding inheritance.
- Distrust of the Police and the Criminal Justice System
- Worry for the regret regarding the unknown consequences of calling the police
Some assumptions that abused elders often make:
- It is their fate that they have an abusive relationship with their children
- Belief that old age is to be spent with their children
- Acceptance that elder women have to serve the family. A woman’s role is to be with her father when young, husband in adulthood and, son in old age
- Not much recognition for the needs and aspiration for elderly
Remember Elder abuse is NOT the victim’s fault!
Help is only a phone call away at our Toll Free Helpline at 1 (888) 862-4874 (1-888-8MAITRI)
(*Source: Administration on Aging, http://www.aoa.gov)
(**Source: Sujata Warrier, PhD., Domestic Violence and South Asian Women; Nalini Shekar, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence/ Maitri)