Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse: Are They Related?
Hopefully, the story doesn’t hit home. Your mom is well into her eighties. Meanwhile, your unmarried sister has agreed to move in with your mother and take care of her. Out of nowhere, your mom has unexplained bruises. She also acts fearful around your sister and mutters about her. Is it possible that your mother is the subject of elder abuse? Does this constitute domestic violence?
You are at a loss. You’ve heard that some elderly people exhibit signs of dementia by acting paranoid and making false accusations. Yet, there is the issue of the black and blues. More than likely, you trust your sister. You know your mom can be a handful, but you can’t believe a favorite loved one would hurt her. The explanations your sister gives for the bruises seem a bit contrived. You are candidly at a loss.
Unfortunately, you won’t find much comfort in these statistics. According to the National Council on Aging, nearly sixty percent of elder abuse cases involve a family member. Two-thirds of the abusers are adult children or spouses. Without a doubt, these numbers are more than alarming.
So, what can you do? In a best-case scenario, you as a family member may be able to handle the situation. However, there’s a good chance your sister will continue the bad behavior. In fact, the problem may get so bad that you may want to seek a restraining order that prevents your sister with interaction with your mom.
Domestic Violence is not Age-Related
Like other states, New Jersey takes domestic violence seriously. In fact, the law is precisely entitled the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. In prior articles, we discussed who can seek prevention under this law. Furthermore, we have also provided you information about various acts that constitute domestic violence.
Unfortunately, our hypothetical situation is not unique. In fact, the legislature is well aware that abuse of older members of society is prevalent. The matter of J.-C.-v.-B.-S. specifically addresses the interplay between domestic violence and elder abuse.
At the onset, the case acknowledges that elder abuse can be either physical or emotional in nature. This particular matter involves a seventy-three year old woman who was has a number of physical disabilities. Nonetheless, she has remained independent and also lives with a friend.
It is unclear if the senior’s adult son moved back in with her or never left the home. In any event, he was verbally abusive to his mother to the point of harassment. His obscenities were often tied to excessive alcohol consumption. Furthermore, the son made a habit of poking his mom, almost causing her to fall on one occasion.
Ultimately, the elderly woman could no longer endure the daily toxic environment. When she asked her son to leave, he refused. The situation became so bad that the police were called to the home. Subsequently, the mother filed for a restraining order.
Both parties testified in court, and the judge found the victim’s testimony more credible than her son’s. In the end, the court found that absent a restraining order, the situation would not change.
The bottom line is that elder abuse can be directly related to domestic violence. When in doubt, you should speak to an attorney with experience in domestic violence about securing protective measures.