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Betty’s Story of Abuse

Elder abuse, including physical and emotional abuse, is common in people over 65 years of age.

Mom Faces Her Family

Betty, an 80-year-old woman who lives with her husband and son, has faced abuse most of her life. Her son, John, is 53 and has schizophrenia. He has been in and out of mental institutions most of his life. He has broken Betty’s bones, given her concussions, and continues to physically and emotionally abuse her. Despite this, Betty wants to protect him. Her hope is that he will get the mental health treatment he so desperately needs.

APS Takes Action

Every time APS investigated a report about Betty’s abuse she tells the caseworker that it was an accident. She refuses any help from APS because she is afraid her son will go to jail. One day that all changed. An APS caseworker, Terry, got a call that Betty got hurt again. This time John had slammed her to the floor, breaking her wrist. Terry immediately called Betty’s house to check on her. Betty’s husband answered but would not let Terry talk to her. He told him that Betty fell on her own and was having delusions.

Terry felt uneasy about that story, so he followed up with Betty’s doctor to check whether she really did have delusions. The doctor said Betty did not have delusions. Terry knew it was important to talk to Betty alone, so he convinced her doctor to call and tell her she needed to come in for an office visit.

But this time was different. The doctor’s staff would not allow Betty’s husband to be in the room with her, and she finally had the chance and courage to tell Terry that her son John, had been hurting her. She admitted that he had thrown her to the floor, and he didn’t care that she was hurt. He even made her cook dinner right afterward. Betty was in pain for weeks before her husband finally let her go to a doctor.

After he heard Betty’s story, Terry arranged for the police and the county judge to meet them at the doctor’s office. Betty shared her story once again and everyone agreed that they should put an emergency detention order in place to help her son. They also secured a 60-day protective order to keep Betty safe.

A Committed Partnership

Terry’s determination secured Betty’s safety. He understood her family’s situation and respected Betty’s feelings about protecting her son. APS, the doctor, the police officer, and the judge all worked together to help Betty find a solution so she could live in a safe home with her dignity intact.

Betty’s story is an example of how Adult Protective Services is committed to working with its partners to protect vulnerable adults who are being abused, neglected, or financially exploited.


If you see signs of neglect in a neighbor or loved one, help them by making a report to APS.

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