Center works to raise awareness of elder abuse

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -- One in three women and one in four men are experiencing abuse.

But these aren't just any men and women. Those stats relate specifically to men and women over 50.

Last Thursday was an especially important day to talk about this because it was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

St. Joe County, Indiana is one of only nine counties in that state that was granted an Abuse in Later Life program.

When you think of abuse, your mind might go straight to the gruesome stuff.

"A caregiver was taking care of someone and wanted his car keys and his money and choked him until... Yeah," said Loretta Bowes of the Family Justice Center in South Bend, Indiana.

But that's not the only abuse situations the Family Justice Center runs into.

"That was a pretty tough case," Bowes said.

Sure, they'll see domestic violence, sexual assault and the like, but when it comes to those in the Later Life program, they see more neglect and exploitation.

"I have a sense of anger on behalf of the client because nobody should be treated in such a disrespectful way," Bowes said.

Around 4 million cases are reported in the United States, but there are more that go unreported. A big reason for that is because the elderly often know the people who are abusing them.

"It is a close family member or somebody that they learned to depend on or trust in the relationship," Bowes said. "And so they don't know how to get out of that."

If you think you or a family member is in an abuse situation, you just have to look at the signs and get help.

"They're more isolated," Bowes said. "They stay in the house more. When somebody calls to see how they are or checking up on them, and they're not allowed to come to the phone. That type of thing."

There are even times where the person being abused might not know it's abuse because they trust the abuser.

But if they don't realize, it's up to friends and family to get them out of situations like that.

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