Common Reasons that Victims of Elder Abuse Do Not Report It

Common Reasons that Victims of Elder Abuse Do Not Report It Elder abuse is a pervasive problem that affects millions of seniors every year. Unfortunately, it is a vastly underreported issue, and many older adults suffer in silence. But what is a common reason that victims of elder abuse do not report it? There are many reasons people don’t report elder abuse, including fear of retaliation, shame, lack of awareness, physical inability, and lack of resources. Read on to learn more about some of the main reasons elder abuse victims might stay quiet. 

Fear of Retaliation

Retaliation is one of the most common reasons that victims of elder abuse do not report it. It’s common for the abuser to be someone the victim knows, perhaps a family member or caregiver. The victim relies on their assistance, so they worry about the person retaliating. The victim might be further isolated, neglected, or even harmed. The abuser might even go so far as threaten the victim outright.


Some elder abuse victims feel shame or embarrassment about elder abuse. Some people might feel they brought the abuse on themselves or caused the abuser to become angry somehow. There’s also a stigma around abuse. Some victims might feel speaking about the abuse makes them look weak or vulnerable.

Lack of Awareness

Sometimes older adults do not realize they are victims. They lack awareness and do not know the signs. This situation is more common with emotional and financial abuse than physical abuse. Someone unfamiliar with the signs of abuse might mistake the event for something else, perhaps related to aging or a health problem.

Lack of Resources

In some situations, the inability to escape the dangerous situation leads them not to report the abuse. For example, someone lacking physical or financial means could opt to stay quiet. Another example is someone who doesn’t have access to the internet or other resources where they learn more about their rights or ask for help. This situation is especially challenging for someone living in a rural or isolated area.

Cognitive Impairment

Someone suffering from cognitive impairment can struggle with letting someone know they are the victim of abuse. Seniors with dementia or other cognitive impairments may be unable to communicate effectively or even realize that abuse is happening. The victim’s caregivers or family members may dismiss their concerns or fail to take their complaints seriously, which can further discourage victims from reporting their abuse.

Lack of Trust

Some seniors strongly distrust authority figures or the systems designed to protect them. Someone who’s had a negative experience with healthcare providers or law enforcement can be hesitant to seek help. Additionally, seniors may fear being treated disrespectfully or that the authorities will not take their complaints seriously. This fear can discourage them from speaking out.

Contact an Elder Abuse Lawyer

Are you searching online for answers to the question, What is a common reason that victims of elder abuse do not report it? If you suspect a loved one is an elder abuse victim, please immediately contact an elder abuse attorney. Taking action is vital in elder abuse matters. If your loved one’s life is at risk, contact 911. The elder abuse lawyers at Senior Justice Law Firm have years of experience representing victims and their families. We can help you seek justice, protect the victim’s rights, and help end the cycle of abuse. Coming forward also helps more seniors from falling victim to this particular abuser. Please contact one of our conveniently located offices to schedule an initial consultation.

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