What can a mother do? He’s my child. That’s what Carol* said when she told us about her son Michael, 46. Long struggling with jobs, housing and relationships, Michael was unemployed and homeless. Eleven months ago, he moved into Carol’s three-bedroom Towson townhome.
From the start, Michael was verbally abusive. He followed her to work, embarrassing her so much that she quit. Her two older children saw what was happening but were powerless. Carol begged them not to interfere. She didn’t want to tell anyone how bad it was. I was ashamed, she said. Fortunately, her children didn’t listen. Instead, they called SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders. As we talked with the older siblings and then Carol, we learned much more.
When Michael moved in, he brought a truckload of boxes, bags and papers. Michael cluttered Carol’s home so badly it was unsafe. He convinced his mother that he would take over the mortgage, for her financial protection. Months later, Carol received a foreclosure notice. He never paid the mortgage.
One day, he drove her to the mall. Becoming enraged, he stopped the car on I-83, made her step out, and left her on the side of the road. Sometimes, he locked Carol in her bedroom, saying that she had nowhere important to go. He broke her cell phone. When asked about sexual abuse, Carol could only cry.
We talked with Carol about her safety, legal and financial considerations, as well as counseling. For now, she is processing the information and doesn’t wish to throw him out or press charges. I don’t want to hurt him, she told us. As of this writing, Michael still lives in the home.
Carol is learning strategies to stay safe and regain control. Her other children are ignoring Michael’s command that they stay away and visit frequently. In time, we hope, Carol will choose to take more steps toward her safety. Her journey is not over. Because of your support, SAFE is here for Carol and hundreds of other older adults in our community. Thanks to you, SAFE is here for Carol and hundreds of other older adults in our community. Thanks to you, SAFE is here to help.