Why elder abuse is often not reported?

Some victims do not report elder abuse because:

  • they are afraid of what the abuser will do to them if they report the abuse,
  • they are completely under the control of the abuser and depend on the abuser for food, shelter, clothing, and health care,
  • they are afraid they will be put in an institution,
  • they are ashamed to tell anyone that a family member is assaulting them or stealing their money, or
  • they think that the police and social agencies cannot really help them.

Sometimes family, friends, or health and social service providers do not report their suspicions of elder abuse because:

  • they do not know who to speak to,
  • they do not know what can be done,
  • they do not want to get involved, or
  • the older person asks them not to report it.

There are other reasons why service providers may not report elder abuse:

  • they may believe that they have a confidential relationship with their client and cannot tell anyone else about what happens in the client’s home,
  • they do not know that assault, theft, or serious neglect in the family or in a long‑term care home is a crime,
  • they might be afraid of the abuser and of going into the home after the abuse is reported,
  • they might believe that the police cannot help because the older person would not be physically able to testify in court, or

they might think nothing can be done because the older person might deny the abuse is happening.