Witnessing a loved one endure any form of abuse can be deeply unsettling. It’s normal to experience a flurry of emotions such as anger and guilt. The situation becomes even more intricate when the individual facing the abuse is an elderly parent, a figure we naturally wish to keep safe. Addressing an abusive situation involving those close to our hearts can seem intimidating, but rest assured; there are definite measures that you can employ to steer through this challenging scenario.
Develop a Safety Plan
Developing a safety strategy is a tailor-made plan that outlines steps to ensure safety while enduring an abusive relationship, contemplating departure, or post-departure. This strategic planning could encompass managing emotions, informing friends and family about the abusive situation, and pursuing legal measures.
Finding a safe space away from the abusive environment is crucial where you, your parents, and siblings can work together on this safety strategy. Living with an abusive parent is challenging. If you ever become a victim of their abuse, seek assistance. If you’re a minor (under 18), you can contact the child abuse hotline. Experienced lawyers like Tinker Law Firm PLLC are also available for legal guidance on handling situations when your elderly parents are abused.
Listen Without Judgement
When offering help to a parent who is experiencing abuse, the ability to hear without judgment is crucial. After expressing your worries, receive their response with an open mind and heart. Let go of any preconceived notions or biases and refrain from interrupting them. Use this moment to demonstrate your support by being a consistent, soothing influence.
This could be their initial chance to disclose their circumstances, so don’t be taken aback if they exhibit resistance or a potent emotional response. Both reactions are completely natural. Show compassion and patience above all else.
These conversations might seem uncomfortable or challenging initially, but they become less daunting with time. As you address the topic, because this should be a continual dialogue rather than a single occurrence, be aware and sensitive to their comfort level and responses. This will help you determine the best approach for future discussions that makes both parties feel at ease.
If they need more time before they’re ready to open up, honor their request. The most supportive action you can take in such instances is to remain accessible, allowing them to approach you when they feel more prepared. Regardless of how they react, never abandon your efforts to help.
Provide Compassionate Support
Navigating situations where a parent is being abused can be incredibly difficult, but most victims truly need non-judgmental support rather than directives on what they “should” do. You can become a pillar of strength for your parents during their ordeal. One way to provide this support is by spending quality time with your parents; it could be watching a film at home, sharing a meal, or participating in an activity that both of you enjoy.
These moments can serve as safe platforms for open conversation and an opportunity for you to reassure them of your love and concern. Remind your parents that they don’t warrant the negative treatment they’re receiving.
Maintaining regular contact can be helpful if you reside separately from your parent(s). Sending light-hearted or affectionate texts or emails or making phone calls to express your love and thoughts can make a significant difference. Even if these actions may seem trivial to you, they can provide immense validation and emotional support for your parents.
Accept Their Choice
It can often be the most challenging part. You naturally want your parents to be safe, and it might seem that the optimal solution is for them to leave. However, leaving can also pose a risk; it necessitates careful planning.
As per statistics, around 75% of women are killed by their abusers when they try to depart or after they have exited an abusive relationship. It typically takes seven attempts before the abused individual can permanently break free from the relationship.
In essence, if your parent is to escape from the abusive situation, they must make a choice. We cannot force them into it. Even though staying can be equally perilous, they may still opt for it. They will have reasons that you might not concur with or comprehend. There might be financial reliance or “honeymoon” phases during which the abusive partner vows to alter their behavior.
Nobody should have to live in an abusive environment. It is unjust and unfair and can also damage the victim’s mental health. But we cannot just stand by and watch without doing anything about it. Taking action to help an abused parent may be daunting, but it can make a difference in their lives.
With an educational background Alana loves the science behind child development. Her passion is the way in which children learn and grow. After an accident that ended her career as a teacher she has dedicated herself to studying child development. She has been learning styles to help influence teachers with the needs of different children. She hopes to one day have a big impact in this space and we are so lucky to have her as part of our writing team. Alana is mum to 3 young adults and loves being a big part in their life.