I’m an older adult. How do I know I’m being abused?

1. Learn what abuse is

Elder abuse happens when someone limits or controls your rights and what you can do. This includes not being able to make choices freely because you're afraid.

But it can be hard to know when something is abuse. And abusers are often people you love or trust, or who seem concerned about you.

You can be abused by:

  • your family members
  • your spouse or partner
  • people you live with, your neighbours, or your landlord
  • caregivers, who are paid or not paid to help you
  • service providers who you hire to do work around your home or property
  • people who you rely on for a place to live or for financial help
  • friends or other trusted people in your life

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. And being neglected or not cared for properly can also be abuse.

Physical abuse  

Physical abuse happens when someone hurts or harms you. For example, it's abuse if someone:

  • hits, punches, slaps, or pushes you
  • confines you, restricts your movements, or restrains you

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse happens when someone:

  • touches you in a way you don't want to be touched
  • makes sexual remarks to you without your consent
  • forces you to have sexual contact that you don't want, such as touching and sexualized kissing
  • forces you to perform a sexual act
  • uses their power and position of authority to force you to engage in a sexual act, for example, this could be a doctor or
  • has sexual contact with you when you say no, but you're not able to stop them, for example, because you have a disability or because you're taking medication or getting treatment

Emotional abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse happens when someone:

  • insults, humiliates, blames, or shames you, or puts you down
  • threatens to harm you or people you love
  • bullies you
  • controls what you can do
  • stops you from contacting your friends or family members, or going to social events
  • stops others people from visiting you or speaking to you
  • controls your religious beliefs and activities

Financial abuse

Financial abuse happens when someone:

  • steals your money or controls how you spend it
  • misuses a
  • shares your home without paying a fair share of the expenses
  • pressures you to do something you don't want to do, such as:
  • selling your home or other personal belongings
  • signing legal documents that you don't fully understand
  • giving money to relatives or caregivers

Read more in I’m an older adult. How do I know if I’m being financially abused?

Neglect

Neglect is also abuse if someone who agreed to give you care or assistance does not make sure that your needs are being met. For example, they might:

  • stop you from getting home care, medical care, or medication
  • leave you in a place that's not safe
  • not provide you with food, proper clothing, bathing, or personal hygiene
  • not help you with your daily activities
  • abandon you or stop you from getting other help
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