My husband batters me all the time………...I just batter him back!”

“You’d better take one of those leaflets (from our Action on Elder Abuse stall) as you’ll be needing their help soon!”

“It’s ok mum, your gonna be in a home soon, so someone else can abuse you for a change!”

These are just some of the comments I’ve heard when hosting one of the many awareness raising stalls that I do throughout Scotland.

My heart, and those of my colleagues, sinks when I hear such comments and I admit I’m not sure how to react. My overwhelming instinct, as someone who is aware of and has unfortunately personally witnessed shocking abuse of a vulnerable older person, is to challenge them.  Or should I smile, appear friendly and create rapport with the person so as not to appear being overly politically correct?    Kirsty Allsopp (one of the presenters of the TV programme Location, Location, Location) once said after receiving criticism for some of the comments she made on one of her programmes, that “people need to learn the difference between abuse and a joke” but is she right?

The people that make such comments about abuse are not violent bullies or bad people, but ordinary citizens who make these comments intended as banter. This applies to jokes about other forms of abuse including domestic abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia etc etc. Organisations who encounter examples of abuse all the time, such as ours, will all probably agree that such “humour” is a dangerous and part of hidden societal messages of prejudice and hostility. These messages can impact on abused people and the ability to place the blame where it should be – with the perpetrator. Making jokes about abuse can trivialise and normalise it and so ultimately make it more difficult for the victims to report. 

So next time you hear someone say (or sing) something like …….

“Ye cannae shove your granny aff the bus”

No !!!......... you most definitely “cannae“ and neither can you hit, rob, deprive, neglect or rape her …………. so why make jokes about it ?

Action on Elder Abuse Scotland aims to continue to raise awareness of the shocking and vile abuse of older people and works hard to change attitudes, but we cannot do it alone and we need the support and help of all of the community

If you have any suggestions or know of any opportunities available to help us with our cause to stamp out elder abuse, then please get in touch.

Similarly if you or anyone you know, has concerns about any form of abuse of an older person, however small it may seem, call our free helpline for advice on :-

080 8808 8141

(open Monday to Friday 9-5)