A court has heard that an elderly woman in Doncaster’s Greek community who lived in fear of her heroin-addicted nephew, was so stressed by his demands and behaviour that she passed blood.
The 33 year-old man in question successfully appealed his 15-month sentence in the Melbourne County Court last week for theft and breaching an intervention order. His non-parole period was reduced from a year to nine months.
The court heard that after losing his job, the man asked his 74 year-old aunt for cash, to use her car, and for her to provide him accommodation.
When the pensioner’s worries began to affect her health, the nephew refused to take her to a doctor. The court heard that the woman gave him $400 in order for him to hire a van to take his belongings from her home, but he refused to leave.
Talking to the Manningham Leader, the pensioner who prefers to remain anonymous, said she still cared for her nephew but could not continue to live in fear.
“I was scared if I didn’t give him money, he’d rob someone,” she said.
Doncaster detective Sgt Vasilios Chrisant who handled the case, told Neos Kosmos: “It’s very disappointing to see this kind of exploitation. The elderly are soft targets and often they’re too scared to report it, or they feel sorry for the abuser.
“They’re reluctant to come forward often because of the close connection they’ve had with their abuser as in many cases they’ve helped bring that person up,” added Sgt Chrisant, whose message to anyone experiencing similar treatment is that they need to report it either to the police or local social support agencies.
Authorities say that elder abuse ranges from intimidation and violence to people with good intentions making overriding decisions on a person’s behalf.
Doncare Community Services told Neos Kosmos that inter-family elder abuse is likely to be a hidden problem in the Manningham area.
“It’s often a family secret,” said Helen McKenzie, manager of social support at Doncare.
“With elders they’re often reliant on the abuser for some level of their care, which can make it a very difficult situation for them,” said Ms McKenzie.
“The first thing is to take the step of talking to someone. Everybody has the right to feel safe.”