World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: If Only I Knew The Hell I Was Subjecting My Mom To, Says 31 Y.O Tina
- IWB Post
- June 15, 2019
‘Elder abuse’- a term people often associate with physical violence only as bruises or broken bones are visible, but what doesn’t leave behind marks is verbal abuse and emotional abuse. It is disrespect, neglect, and abandoning the elderly, making them feel that they are a burden, and above all, unwanted.
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.
It is Mary D’souza’s (name changed) story I will be telling you today, a story I heard from her daughter years after Mary’s death.
It was the year 1999 and Mary D’souza was an 85-year-old widow living all on her own in her house after her daughter’s marriage. As a single mother, she had worked hard to raise a daughter who was the center of her world, Mary was finding it hard to cope with living all alone.
So, when her daughter, Tina (name changed) invited Mary to live with her, she thought of it as the best decision to leave her home and move in with her daughter and her family. The one thing that was bothering her was the fact that her son-in-law Ashvin (name changed) had made her a little uneasy. But the thought of getting to live with her daughter and grandchildren was enough to dispel those lingering doubts. It was only with time she would realize that how right her instincts were about her son-in-law.
Ashvin would be extremely well-behaved with his mother-in-law when Tina was around but as soon as others would be out of sight and ear-shot, Mary’s real suffering would begin. He would verbally abuse her, mocking the way she talked and walked. Some two years ago, she had suffered from a paralytic attack and since then had been unable to walk or talk properly. And that’s the weak point he latched on to, calling her stupid, telling her how she disgusted him and what a huge burden she was on everyone.
Mary suffered through it all silently as he had threatened her that if she ever breathes a word of what has been happening to anyone he would send her to an old-age home, away from her daughter.
Tina was confused as to why her mother, so fond of socializing and spending time with her family, had suddenly become a recluse, so withdrawn from everyone, not leaving her room except for meals. And even then Tina had to request her to eat properly as she would eat hurriedly, that too a meager amount, and try to dash to her room. She rarely spoke anymore, never smiled, it was like she was shutting down.
Initially, Tina thought that maybe her mother was just adjusting to a new environment but soon she realized that her mother was too silent. She began noticing the scared look in her mother’s eyes and above all how she avoided looking at her husband, literally shivering at his mere mention. When she asked her husband about the same, he denied knowing the reason behind his mother-in-law’s behavior. That night, when Tina returned from the office, she found her mother passed out in her room. The doctors said it was another paralytic attack, a rather severe one brought on by something very stressful she had been experiencing.
Mary could now only whisper out words, that too in pieces and that’s how she told Tina everything when she pushed her mother to tell the truth. Appalled by the reality, Tina soon left Ashvin and filed a case of elder abuse against him. But it was all too little too late, as Mary slipped into a coma and died soon after.
“If only I had known it before, it was hell I was subjecting my mother to. The woman who spent her life working to make sure that I had the life she never had. It was happening before my eyes and I never knew. Only if she could forgive me for doing this to her,” Tina said.
This is not a lone incident, nor 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 the below-given number to provide them 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