If you have been abused, or if you think someone else is being abused, tell the police. Even if you believe you gave the abuser a reason to abuse you, or you think the incident is not very significant, calling the police is an important part of protecting yourself or being a good neighbor. Telling the police about crimes that have happened is one way to prevent future crimes.
When you call the police, the police operator will take as much information as is necessary to be able to send the police. The police might ask for your telephone number and name so that they can get more information from you in the future, or to check some facts. But if you tell the police that you want to remain anonymous, they will not tell anyone that you called, including the victim or the person you suspect is abusive.
The police can investigate the report. The investigation might include:
- a detailed signed statement from the victim,
- statements from neighbors, other family members, or service providers who might have evidence,
- photographs of any injuries,
- a medical report,
- statements from anyone who knows about previous abuse (for example, hospital staff), or
- any other relevant evidence.
If the police believe that a crime has been committed, they can lay charges. The police are encouraged to lay charges instead of advising victims to go through the steps on their own. Some victims of elder abuse may not be physically or mentally capable of taking the initiative to charge their abuser. Some victims are more likely to support the prosecution of their abuser if they are not personally responsible for the arrest.
Victims who are concerned about what will happen to their abuser can ask the police for information on the law and the criminal justice system. This might help the victim to be more willing to co‑operate with the police.
Victims of elder abuse who are asked to testify in court may be able to get help and support from a lawyer or from the Victim/Witness Assistance Program run by the court. They can ask the police to help them get in touch with the Victim/Witness Assistance Program if it is available in their area.
The Victim Support Line (VSL) is a provincial, multilingual information line providing a range of services to victims of crime. The VSL offers:
- information and referral to support services in your community,
- prerecorded information about the criminal justice system, and
- access to information about provincially sentenced offenders.
You can reach the VSL toll-free at 1-888-579-2888. In the Toronto area call 416-314-2447.