World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Beaten And Starved By Her Nephew, 65 Y.O. Refuses To File A Case Against Him
- IWB Post
- June 15, 2019
‘Elder abuse’- a term people often associate with physical violence as one can see the bruises or broken bones, but this isn’t the only type of abuse there is. It can be verbal and emotional as well. It can be disrespect, neglect, and abandonment too. On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we share with you real-life stories of the elderly that they live within the four walls of their house, a reality that they refrain from revealing.
Tortured and isolated, they accept it all, refusing to seek help for fear of tarnishing their family honor and above all, limited by their love for the family they devoted their years to.
Today I will be sharing the story of Sheila Sen (name changed), a woman who was beaten and starved, a fact that I was well aware of but could never do anything to remove her from that hell.
Married to my grandfather’s cousin, she entered the family as a stepmother to three children who were well past their childhood, matured by the sudden demise of their mother and unwilling to accept another woman as their Maa. Sheila had dreams of her own, dreams of having a family, being a mother but as her husband’s children were far from giving her that position, her dream… well, remained a dream.
Due to some hormonal complications, it was later found that she was unable to bear a child. Combined with the fact that her husband married her with the sole purpose of providing a mother to his kids, who wouldn’t even eat with her in the same room let alone call her their mother, she fell into depression. At that time it was her sister who appeared as an angel for her and asked her to adopt her elder son who was 12 at the time.
Desperate to hear someone call her Maa, she agreed and soon Naveen (name changed) was brought to their house without any legal adoption proceedings because, after all, it was family which means blind trust. That was the day everything started deteriorating. Soon her sister came to her house with her entire family, saying that she missed her son and was just visiting. A visit that turned permanent and when Sheila tried to point it out, her sister threatened to take away her son as legally Sheila was not the mother.
Fifteen years went by, none of us ever heard from Sheila, my grandma, but not from lack of trying to communicate with her. It was either her sister or her son who answered the phone and visitors who actually managed to meet Sheila, who is 65 now, were unable to probe much as she was always surrounded by her sister and her family since her husband’s death. Her step-children had been living separately since they completed their studies.
While we were aware that something was wrong, we came to know the entire truth when she was found on the roadside by my aunt in a disheveled state, with her face bearing finger imprints, cloths old and torn and bruises on her hands. She told us how her nephew had forcibly got her to transfer the house in his name and would rarely give her food, making her do all the chores. He would beat her brutally if she denied to hand over her husband’s monthly pension which she received.
Also, it wasn’t the first time they had thrown her out of the house and like always she wanted to go back to the man she considered her son. While we had decided that this was too much and the police are needed to be involved in what clearly was a case of elder abuse, she denied our help and had just one request for us.
“Can you just go and make him understand how much I love him? I am sure he will understand, how much his mother cares for him. I’ll give him everything, I’ll earn for him myself, just ask him to not leave me like this, please?”
She went back to him after two days, forgiving him once again. She was not ready to even think about filing a police complaint against him. “How can I? How can a mother do that to her son?”
This is not a lone incident neither the last one. Elderly people are suffering from abuse this very instant. While they won’t or maybe can’t approach anyone for help, you can. If you’ve noticed any such case of elder abuse, contact at the below-given number to provide these innocent victims the help they desperately need:
Helpage India: 011-41688955-56,1800-180-1253
Nightingales Medical Trust: + 91 80 4242 6565
The Golden age helpline: 1800-180-0060