I’m an older adult. How can I protect myself from abuse?

4. Think about calling the police

All abuse is wrong but not all abuse is a crime. For example, if a tells you that you're worthless, they're abusing you. But it's not a crime.

If a caregiver tells you that they're going to physically hurt you, this may be a crime even if they don't go through with the threat.

If family members or friends ask to borrow money and they pressure or bully you to do this, that could be abuse. But it's not a crime.

It may be a crime if someone, even a family member, takes your money without asking you, or uses your identity. Read more in I’m an older adult. How do I know if I’m being financially abused?

When elder abuse is a crime

In Canada, some types of are crimes, such as , any kind of assault, and making threats.

Elder abuse is the broad term used to describe these crimes when the victim is an .

If you think you've been abused and that it's a crime, you can call the police. In an emergency, call 911. If it's not an emergency, call your local police station.

What the police can do

If you call 911 from your home, the police have the right to come into your home. They can do this even if you tell them that you don't want them to, or that you've changed your mind.

If you report abuse, the police may do some of the following:

  • ask you for a detailed statement about what happened, which you'll have to sign
  • get statements from neighbours, family members, or service providers who might know about the abuse
  • take photographs of any injuries you have
  • get a medical report
  • get statements from anyone who knows about abuse that happened to you in the past, for example, hospital staff or your doctor

If the police think that the person abusing you has committed a crime, they can charge them.

If you're afraid or not able to report the abuse to the police on your own, ask someone to help you.

If you're concerned about what will happen to the person who's abusing you, ask the police to explain this to you.

If you have to go to court

If you have to testify in court, you may be able to get help and support from the Victim/Witness Assistance Program. You can ask the police to help you get in touch with the program.

You can also contact the Victim Support Line, which gives:

  • information and referrals to support services
  • recorded information about the criminal justice system

This information is available in several languages. Call the Victim Support Line at 1-888-579-2888 or 416-314-2447.

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