By Bonnie Brandl and Tess Meuer
About the Article
Meredith is seventy-eight years old and has lived in her current home for forty-seven years. Her husband died eight years ago. She suffers from asthma and high blood pressure. Although she used to be active in her church and the community, she is now afraid to drive and stays home most days. Last year, her son moved in to help her with yard work, chores, and transportation. The arrangement with her son has not worked out as she planned. He lost his job shortly before moving in with her, something he forgot to mention when they were making plans. In the beginning, he went out on interviews. Recently it seems the “interviews” are visits to the local bar. Even though Meredith does all the laundry and prepares their meals, her son insists that she sign over her Social Security check every month. The time she argued with him, he slapped her hard across the face. Now she simply signs the checks without complaint. Last week he took some of her prized antiques and jewelry. She is afraid to ask where they are. Around her neighbors, her son is charming and attentive. They think Meredith is fortunate to have a devoted son. She is afraid if she tells anyone about his behavior, no one will believe her. Who would believe that he forces her to watch pornographic movies? He also threatens to send her to a nursing home. Even if someone did believe her, what would happen to both of them? She doesn’t want to leave her home. She certainly doesn’t want him to end up in jail.
About the Authors
Bonnie Brandl, M.S.W. is the Project Coordinator of the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL), a project of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV).
Tess Meuer, J.D. is the Senior Staff Attorney at WCADV.
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