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Where Faith and Safety Meet: Faith Communities Respond to Elder Abuse

NCJ Number
Date Published
24 pages
This booklet assists faith-community members and leaders in being prepared to identify and assist victims and survivors of elder abuse.
Because elderly individuals are often involved in the activities of faith communities, members and leaders are in a unique position to observe the warning signs that elder abuse may be occurring. The booklet describes scenarios that may indicate that elderly abuse is occurring in the life of an elderly person involved in the faith community. The booklet also provides guidance for faith-community leaders and members in supporting and providing information to victims, as well as where they can turn for assistance from community-based agencies and programs. The booklet defines "elder abuse" as occurring "when an older adult is willfully neglected or abused." Such abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, spiritual, or financial. Individuals most likely to abuse older adults are intimate partners and family members, and most abuse occurs in the home. Victims are primarily women. In providing suggestions for assisting elderly victims of abuse, the booklet suggests specific questions that might be asked the victim in order to determine whether abuse is occurring. A faith community can be a place of refuge for a victim of elder abuse. It may be the first place an older adult turns for help. A faith community can be instrumental in assuring the victim that the abuse is not her fault, that she doesn't deserve the abuse, that others care about her, and that there are service providers in the community who are trained to help persons in her situation. Advice is also given on what not to do in attempting to assist a victim of elder abuse. 10 endnotes