Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County


News & Events

Do Shelters Cause Homelessness?

Andy Kessler, former hedge fund manager, has caused quite a stir with his assertion that shelters and the people who volunteer in them (including his own teenaged son) are the root cause of homelessness. His comments have generated quite a discussion throughout the country (and undoubtedly at his own dinner table)… what do you think? Quite simply, he reasons it’s because shelters provide food, clothing and a ‘home’ that people living in shelters are disencented from working and contributing to the economic stability of our country. He’s not the first to make the argument that we have these problems in our community because we offer help.

Contrary to what you may think, people who work in human service agencies aren’t pushovers offering a tissue and free access to a shoulder to cry on. Yes, we tend to be compassionate and caring… but we’re also really pragmatic. We absolutely offer support and assistance when someone is in crisis, but we use that crisis as a beginning. What factors contributed to the crisis? And what actions does the person need to take to correct not just the immediate problem but the factors that contributed to it. Often this means getting a job (or a second one), reducing spending, and taking a hard look at the choices they were making (cell phone, cable TV, smaller apartment, owning a car vs. public transportation.) Many of the homeless persons we assist are working; they just couldn’t make ends meet. So the focus becomes finding out why…not to make excuses, but to create needed change.  Because human service non-profit agencies can’t offer generous salaries, folks who work in the field tend to be really good at these practical decisions; that’s how they get by.

So it’s true our nonprofits may provide a meal to someone who is hungry, a roof when they have nowhere to go, or a warm coat in the winter, but that’s just where our services start. Our true goal is to help people achieve safe, stable lives. That process isn’t easy and generally requires some candid conversations and personal change. ..along with understanding and compassion.

In the past few years as our economy became more challenging I’ve heard many people saying their understanding of homelessness has changed. It’s not just the chronically addicted person or someone with severe mental health issues unwilling to accept treatment who becomes homeless. More and more I hear people sign, “So many of us are just one tragedy or one paycheck away from a housing crisis.”

I ‘m glad that if that happens, we have agencies and people who care to help us get back on track.

What is Elder Abuse? NYS Bar Associaition Answers

You seek help from the elders. A society with elders is healthy.
Bernard Legat
 
 
"According to Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study,  14% of older adults in NYS have experienced some form of elder abuse. Yet for every incident documented by NYS government agencies there are nearly 24 that go unreported."1   

Yesterday's post covered the need to educate professionals from all sectors about elder abuse. While a client or patient may not be accessing the professional because of elder abuse, doctors, attorneys, bankers and other professionals  may have opportunities to identify elder abuse and intervene. In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the NYS Bar Association created  a FAQ document for distribution to attorneys. That's a great start. This info is helpful not just to attorneys, but to all of us: 

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is an action or lack of appropriate actions, which causes harm, risk of harm, or distress to an individual 60 years of age or older and occurs:

a) within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust; or

b) when the targeted act is directed towards an elder person by virtue of age or disabilities. 

Elder abuse can be intentional or unintentional, can take various forms, and includes but is not limited to emotional, physical, sexual, or financial abuse, neglect and abandonment.2
 

What are some general signs that might indicate elder abuse?

·         Unexplained physical injuries
·         Social or physical isolation (denying the older adult contact with others, or limiting his/her ability to speak to others unobserved)
·         Emotional distress, fearfulness or withdrawal
·         Self-destructive behavior
·         Unexplained loss of financial independence or confusion about financial transactions
·         Lack of basic care (e.g., adequate nutrition, clothing, medical care)


What is Elder Abuse? NYS Bar Associaition Answers

You seek help from the elders. A society with elders is healthy.
Bernard Legat
 
 
"According to Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study,  14% of older adults in NYS have experienced some form of elder abuse. Yet for every incident documented by NYS government agencies there are nearly 24 that go unreported."1   

Yesterday's post covered the need to educate professionals from all sectors about elder abuse. While a client or patient may not be accessing the professional because of elder abuse, doctors, attorneys, bankers and other professionals  may have opportunities to identify elder abuse and intervene. In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the NYS Bar Association created  a FAQ document for distribution to attorneys. That's a great start. This info is helpful not just to attorneys, but to all of us: 

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is an action or lack of appropriate actions, which causes harm, risk of harm, or distress to an individual 60 years of age or older and occurs:

a) within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust; or

b) when the targeted act is directed towards an elder person by virtue of age or disabilities. 

Elder abuse can be intentional or unintentional, can take various forms, and includes but is not limited to emotional, physical, sexual, or financial abuse, neglect and abandonment.2
 

What are some general signs that might indicate elder abuse?

·         Unexplained physical injuries
·         Social or physical isolation (denying the older adult contact with others, or limiting his/her ability to speak to others unobserved)
·         Emotional distress, fearfulness or withdrawal
·         Self-destructive behavior
·         Unexplained loss of financial independence or confusion about financial transactions
·         Lack of basic care (e.g., adequate nutrition, clothing, medical care)


Elders are Particularly Vulnerable to Financial Exploitation

Leadership Saratoga spearheaded a community outreach project for Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services  so we could to better understand elder abuse in Saratoga County. They found that financial abuse was one of the most frequent forms of elder abuse.Often the person exploiting the elder is a family member whom they rely on for support. On the positive side the Leadership Saratoga team also found that banking institutions routinely train their employees to be on the lookout for financial exploitation of elders.

The team  convened a forum of community leaders and professionals concerned with elder abuse to brainstorm what we can do to prevent, identify and reduce elder abuse. One suggestion was to train a variety of professionasl to be on the lookout for all forms of exploitation of elders. These creative professionals urged us to think outside the box and train professionals to look beyond the scope of their daily work to identify abuse. Their wise words rang true today when I read an article identifying doctors as key links in identifying elder abuse.  An elder may see his/her doctor more  often than any other professional. The doctor may also know more about  their stressors, support systems, and resources than anyone. In fact the survey cited in the article notes that more than 1 in 5 doctors are aware their elderly patients are victims of  financial exploitation.

The vast majority of these doctors reasoned that seniors are particularly vulnerable to abuse due to cognitive   impairments. We sometimes view elders as too trusting,,, even careless or gullible with regard to people. Actually changes in their brain can affect  their ability to accurately judge how trustworthy someone is. Studies show that even healthy seniors with no obvious cognitive difficulties may have difficulty making decisions...and this can increase their vulnerability to fraud and financial exploitation.

Gobankingrates.com gives the following tips for protecting loved ones from elder abuse: Visit their site to learn more about elder abuse.
If you are concerned about your elderly loved one, or think you may be the victim of elder abuse, there are a number of signs you can look for to make your confirmation:
  • Excessive withdrawals from a bank account
  • Items or cash missing from the senior’s household
  • Changes to power of attorney, wills, titles or insurance policies
  • Names added to signature cards
  • Unpaid bills despite a significant cash flow
  • Financial activity that couldn’t be completed by the senior citizen
  • Unnecessary services or goods


Elders are Particularly Vulnerable to Financial Exploitation

Leadership Saratoga spearheaded a community outreach project for Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services  so we could to better understand elder abuse in Saratoga County. They found that financial abuse was one of the most frequent forms of elder abuse.Often the person exploiting the elder is a family member whom they rely on for support. On the positive side the Leadership Saratoga team also found that banking institutions routinely train their employees to be on the lookout for financial exploitation of elders.

The team  convened a forum of community leaders and professionals concerned with elder abuse to brainstorm what we can do to prevent, identify and reduce elder abuse. One suggestion was to train a variety of professionasl to be on the lookout for all forms of exploitation of elders. These creative professionals urged us to think outside the box and train professionals to look beyond the scope of their daily work to identify abuse. Their wise words rang true today when I read an article identifying doctors as key links in identifying elder abuse.  An elder may see his/her doctor more  often than any other professional. The doctor may also know more about  their stressors, support systems, and resources than anyone. In fact the survey cited in the article notes that more than 1 in 5 doctors are aware their elderly patients are victims of  financial exploitation.

The vast majority of these doctors reasoned that seniors are particularly vulnerable to abuse due to cognitive   impairments. We sometimes view elders as too trusting,,, even careless or gullible with regard to people. Actually changes in their brain can affect  their ability to accurately judge how trustworthy someone is. Studies show that even healthy seniors with no obvious cognitive difficulties may have difficulty making decisions...and this can increase their vulnerability to fraud and financial exploitation.

Gobankingrates.com gives the following tips for protecting loved ones from elder abuse: Visit their site to learn more about elder abuse.
If you are concerned about your elderly loved one, or think you may be the victim of elder abuse, there are a number of signs you can look for to make your confirmation:
  • Excessive withdrawals from a bank account
  • Items or cash missing from the senior’s household
  • Changes to power of attorney, wills, titles or insurance policies
  • Names added to signature cards
  • Unpaid bills despite a significant cash flow
  • Financial activity that couldn’t be completed by the senior citizen
  • Unnecessary services or goods


"Fulton Woman Found Dead… Son Questioned"

At DVRC we've been working with our community to increase awareness of elder abuse. As I read in today's Saratogian an article entitled, Woman found dead in Fulton County home; son questioned, it resonated with me how important it is that we all be conscious of the prevalence and how to identify  elder abuse. This is an investigation in process, so we don't know the circumstances surrounding this woman's death.

June 15th was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. A team from Leadership Saratoga helped us to begin a conversation with  businesses in our community who assist elders and are active in identifying and intervening to aid at risk elders. Click here to hear what Charles Wait  has to say about why this project was so important to his team.



The folks at WNYT helped us to get the message out on World Elder Abuse Awareness day by talking with me about elder abuse. But we need to be aware of elder abuse not just one day a year, but every day. So here are some facts:

  • 1 in 10 elders in the US are abused.
  • In 90% of cases elders are abused by family members.
  • 65% of elder abuse victims are women.
  • For elders experiencing abuse, the risk of death increases by 300%.
Upcoming posts:
What is Elder Abuse?
What can YOU do?



"Fulton Woman Found Dead… Son Questioned"

At DVRC we've been working with our community to increase awareness of elder abuse. As I read in today's Saratogian an article entitled, Woman found dead in Fulton County home; son questioned, it resonated with me how important it is that we all be conscious of the prevalence and how to identify  elder abuse. This is an investigation in process, so we don't know the circumstances surrounding this woman's death.

June 15th was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. A team from Leadership Saratoga helped us to begin a conversation with  businesses in our community who assist elders and are active in identifying and intervening to aid at risk elders. Click here to hear what Charles Wait  has to say about why this project was so important to his team.



The folks at WNYT helped us to get the message out on World Elder Abuse Awareness day by talking with me about elder abuse. But we need to be aware of elder abuse not just one day a year, but every day. So here are some facts:

  • 1 in 10 elders in the US are abused.
  • In 90% of cases elders are abused by family members.
  • 65% of elder abuse victims are women.
  • For elders experiencing abuse, the risk of death increases by 300%.
Upcoming posts:
What is Elder Abuse?
What can YOU do?



Key4Women Pay It Forward Day!

Join Marlo Merrithew, Key4Women manager and other Saratoga County women on Tuesday, July 16th, for Pay it Forward Day!
Where?    Wiawaka Holiday House
When?     11:30am-4:30pm
Learn things like:

  • Why service is a critical component in any advanced society
  • How the efforts of one can positively impact many in our community
  • How you can feel great about yourself while doing important volunteer work
  • By volunteering you can make connections with many other “Pay it Forward” minded women in business professionals!
Keynote presentation to be given by Barbara Sweet, Executive Director of the Tri-County United Way.
Kate Van Buren of DVRC and Christiine Dixon of Wiawaka Holiday House will also give overviews of each program and provide simple, but critical hands on projects you can volunteer for from start to finish.
Bring your own lunch, and learn how you can make a meaningful difference in your community!
RSVP tp Marlo Merrithew at (518) 587-2405 or email marlo_merrithew@keybank.com by Friday, July 12, 2013.

For directions visit www.wiawaka.org click about us and select directions.
Wiawaka Holiday House
3778 State Route 9L
Lake George, NY 12845

Knickknacks End Years of Abuse

knickknacks

(Lisa Cupolo, June 2013)

It wasn’t until she realized that her concern for her knickknacks became more important than her concern for her own life that she finally started her path to ending years of abuse.

Mary got married when she was young to a friend of the family.

“Although I was married, I was forced to have intercourse.  I felt like a rape victim with my own husband.  He pushed himself on me.  He forced me.”, said Mary describing the abuse.  “They (the abuser) think they control every part of you – even your body,” she said.

Approximately two-thirds of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows (U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Study. 2005). In 2012, according to Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County (DVRC), 32 percent of sexual assault clients reported that their perpetrator was a marital partner, partner or ex partner.  Another 28 percent reported that the sexual assault was perpetrated by an acquaintance, 23 percent by a relative and only 17 percent by a stranger.

The sexual abuse Mary experienced became a pattern in her life, as it does for many. The abusive patterns started for Mary when she was just five years old when she was sexually abused by a family member. In Mary’s case, sexual abuse came paired with mental and physical abuse and control.

When she gave birth to her first child at a young age, her husband had not allowed her to see a doctor until the day that she gave birth. “The hospital staff told my husband that if it wasn’t for the fact that we were married, they would report him,” Mary said recounting her experience.  “That was the only time during my abuse that I can remember thinking that someone cared about my experience as a victim of abuse,” she said.

In 2012, DVRC met with 123 victims of sexual assault. According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, only 20% of primary sexual assault victims seek help from an agency such as DVRC.  According to these statistics, there is the potential that there were over 615 cases of sexual assault in Saratoga County in 2012; 492, potentially, were never reported.

“I lost a baby due to his abuse,” Mary said.  “I went to the hospital and no one even noticed that my miscarriage was due to physical abuse.  I wondered how no one cared.”

Mary recounted blocking reality as a way to cope.

“He would force himself on me.  You know it is wrong.  You are fully competent but you go into survival mode just to get through the day and make it out alive.  You lose grip with reality,” she said.

There is an average of 207,754 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S. (U.S. Department of Justice.National Crime Victimization Survey. 2006-2010).  This means on average, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every 2 minutes.

After ten years of abuse, Mary finally came to the realization that she needed to make a change.

“My sister came to visit me for a few days.  My husband was beating me in the kitchen.  He didn’t care that my sister was watching him beat me.  My sister recalled me screaming ‘don’t break the knickknacks!’ A light bulb went off in my head when my sister pointed out after witnessing the abuse that I was more concerned about breaking the knickknacks in my kitchen than I was about my own life.  The abuse became so normal to me,” Mary said.  “I finally had someone say ‘What are you doing? Get out of this!’”

“There are a lot of reasons why people don’t leave abusive relationships,” says Jackie who works for DVRC of Saratoga County, “One of the biggest reasons is because they feel like they’re in love and they hope that love will make their abuser change. Other times they feel guilty; they believe they are at fault for the abuse or that it would stop if they could change something about themselves.”

“Thankfully, the trend I see is more people are reporting sexual assault and rape to the police and authorities,” said Jim Murphy, Saratoga County District Attorney. “I believe this is not necessarily because the assaults are occurring more often but because there is more awareness for what sexual assault actually is. Agencies are more helpful in terms of trying to understand and empower the victims.”  DVRC does its best to offer a variety of resources to its clients, including a 9 bedroom safe house, a 24-hour hotline, and a team of legal advocates” says the DA. Jackie agrees, “we have legal advocates at DVRC that are able to go through the criminal justice and/or family justice system…they’re not lawyers but they’re able to give legal information, they’re able to advocate for the victim in court and with law enforcement.”

Mary went to the police and stayed at a hotel.  She knew that whatever the odds were, she had to move on, for her own sanity and for her children.  Mary described being hesitant to leave because her husband assured her that he would stop the abuse. However, she knew from experience that he would not stop and that it would only become worse.

With support from NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services all Saratoga Hospital emergency room nurses are specially trained to assist victims of sexual assault. The hospital has private rooms for victims and works with DVRC immediately so that the victim feels supported and empowered right from the beginning.

“People are still embarrassed and there is a stigma associated with sexual assault.  I think it is far worse to say nothing and carry the burden throughout a person’s life.  I am not saying that going through the criminal justice system as a victim is easy but it is made easier through a supportive system.  The important thing is to understand that it is not the victim’s fault,” Jackie reports.

In terms of preventative services, the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office works with the County’s twelve school districts to educate youth about safe sex, sexting and protecting themselves and their bodies.  The office also meets with Saratoga Hospital monthly and provides police training related to interacting with victims. Likewise, there are a variety of services that DVRC offers, including prevention and outreach programs with youth and adults across Saratoga County.

“I think that in Saratoga County, one of the things that we are really lucky to have is agencies where the directors collaborate.  They meet and share resources,” said Murphy.

“I have been in these shoes and I understand.  My children saw me get physically abused.  Eventually you realize that you have to get strong and get out of the situation or you won’t survive,” said Mary. “Organizations like DVRC help individuals become strong and healthy again,” she said.

Creating an awareness of what abuse is and empowering victims and their families is one of the most valuable resources available to the community. With organizations like DVRC and Saratoga Hospital, in partnership with the District Attorney’s office, we can be sure that there will be far more happy endings like Mary’s.

 


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