Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich

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Why Is Elder Abuse Rarely Reported To Authorities?

Fear

  • Fear of retaliation by the abuser
  • Fear of not being believed
  • Fear of being institutionalized, or separated from family and familiar things
  • Fear of the criminal justice system
  • Fear of loneliness

Protect the abuser

  • Adult children are often the abusers, and because of the guilt and shame in being abused by one’s own children, the abuse is not reported.

Social isolation

  • An isolated older victim may not know how or where to seek help. Older adults often live alone, or with family members and don’t interact with others in the community.

Self-blame and/or denial

  • Many victims do not seek help because they either blame themselves for the abuse, or they tolerate and accept the abuse.

Inability to report

  • Mental impairments: dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, cause memory loss, and in the later stages of these illnesses people lose the ability to communicate effectively.
  • Physical impairments: strokes can affect the ability to communicate and report abuse, and because of other physical impairments, victims cannot get to the phone or leave the home to get help.