'Terrorised in their own homes': Reports of elderly being abused in own home rising

'Terrorised in their own homes': Reports of elderly being abused in own home rising
Priscilla Grainger is the founder of Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Shocking cases of older people being abused in their own homes are emerging across Ireland, a support group and law expert have reported.

Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland (SDVII) said the number of cases involving abuse of older people is rising, as are domestic violence cases in general.

Several elderly victims have been granted protection orders in recent days, records show.

In one case, SDVII said, a victim was violently attacked and slammed against a wall. 

In another, parents sought to protect themselves from their adult son who was getting drunk and abusing them in their home.

SDVII founder Priscilla Grainger described the cases involving older abuse victims as “heartbreaking”.

She said it is the first time the group has seen several types of these cases emerge, adding the country’s lockdown is putting pressure on families.

Ms Grainger said: “There’s been a very noticeable increase in the number of domestic violence reports we’ve been getting in recent weeks, but it’s especially upsetting to see cases involving older people, some of who are literally being terrorised in their own homes.

“We’ve seen cases involving people aged up to 80 who are being forced to get a protection order or baring order against their own children. 

"It’s scary. In some cases it appears the problem is exacerbated because they’re living at home, most likely because they’ve got no choice.”

Family law solicitor Sandra McAleer said she has seen a “huge rise” in domestic violence cases across the board, including ones involving elderly parents and their adult children.

Ms McAleer said: “Usually the parents own the family home and the adult children only have an invitation to stay in the property. 

"Most applicants need the assistance of the court or gardai to remove their adult children which can be very stressful for the applicant.

“The Domestic Violence Act allows for the applicant parent to bring an application or if they are not in a position due to health or inability, the HSE can bring this application on their behalf, especially if they cannot leave the family home due to bad health or serious underlying conditions.”

This week the gardaí said there has been an 18% increase in the calls for help in relation to domestic violence over the past year as they launched the third phase of Operation Faoiseamh in support of abuse victims.

In many cases, the elderly victim is abused by their adult children (PA)

SDVII say they are braced for the Christmas surge in calls to the support line, which they say is already happening.

Ms Grainger fears this Christmas will be the most difficult the organisation has experienced.

To help victims this year, SDVII has purchased dozens of mobile phones to help woman and men who are trying to escape their abusers but don’t have the means to do so.

According to SDVII co-founder Ainie Grainger, in many cases abusers exert control over their victims by taking away their mobile phones and other means of communication with the outside world.

Ms Grainger added: “The phones will be issued to people who are in very bad situations and have had to get a safety order or barring order in place. 

"The phones are basic, but they have their own sim and they’re brand new. We funded this ourselves because we know the surge is going to be huge in the weeks leading up to Christmas.”

SDVII, who have partnered with the Inner City Helping Homeless organisation, have also reported a worrying rise in the number of abuse victims being made homeless in the countdown to the festive period.

Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland can be contacted on 086 869 7022, or visit stopdomesticviolence.ie or the Facebook page here

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