OVC Acting Director Katherine Darke Schmitt Commemorates World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Every June 15, the Nation commemorates World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In this video message, OVC Acting Director Katherine Darke Schmitt discusses OVC's efforts to ensure that victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation are connected with trauma-informed services and helpful resources that protect the safety and confidentiality of victims.
KATHERINE DARKE SCHMITT: Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In the shadow of a pandemic that has “imposed tremendous hardships on our Nation’s older Americans,” as President Biden state in a proclamation last week, we come together to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
In the United States, an estimated 5 million older Americans are abused, neglected, or exploited each year. Victims of elder abuse are robbed of their homes, life savings, their dignity, their independence, and even sometimes their lives. Isolated from loved ones, older American's have been particularly vulnerable to surging financial exploitation and fraud during the pandemic.
A recent case illustrates what is at stake. An older man received a call from someone claiming to be with the Drug Enforcement Administration, who informed him that he had arrest warrants out for human and drug trafficking. To lift the charges, he was instructed to pay a large sum of money. He had already cleared out his checking and savings accounts when he paused to call the National Elder Fraud Hotline. A Hotline case manager explained the scam, worked with him to complete an internet crime complaint form, provided helpful resources, and recommended placing fraud alerts on all of his accounts.
This man narrowly avoided the worst outcome, but the effects of these crimes are often devastating.
OVC is working tirelessly to ensure that victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation are connected with trauma-informed services and helpful resources that protect the safety and the confidentiality of victims.
Through the Crime Victims Fund—which is financed by fines and penalties from convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars—OVC is supporting:
- Increased legal services for older victims across the country, particularly in rural areas.
- Enhanced multidisciplinary teams to better identify and respond to victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation.
- Training, resources, and tools for state and local law enforcement partners to expand their capacity to effectively prevent and combat elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
- State and local elder abuse programs.
- Evidence-based mental health interventions for older victims, who screen positive for depression, and telehealth services to provide those services remotely.
- And, finally, the development of critical resources that help stakeholders identify, reach, and better serve older victims of crime.
For more information about OVC and DOJ initiatives supporting victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation, I encourage you to visit ovc.ojp.gov and justice.gov/elderjustice. Finally, I encourage all of you to visit the University of Southern California's Center for Elder Justice to learn more about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and how you can participate.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.