When abuse strikes at home


Mary was in her 70s when she first came to the attention of care workers. She was in a rehabilitation unit, recovering from a stroke, when her daughter confided in the medical staff. It emerged that Mary's stroke was brought on by an attempt by her husband to strangle her. When this was put to her, Mary admitted it.

Her daughter went on to say that her father had abused the children and he would not let them speak to anyone. She said he had forced Mary to sign over her pension book to him. This was not her first injury - Mary had attended several hospitals in the past and showed evidence of fractured ribs. However, her GP was not aware of the abuse.

Despite the abuse, she said she wanted to go back to her husband. The hospital consultant said she must not be discharged if she was going to return home. Mary's determination to return home created dilemmas for the care workers, who knew they couldn't stop her. In the meantime, her husband had been intimidating the rest of the family and had threatened to go to his daughter's place of work.

Nursing staff noticed that Mary had become very strong during her hospital stay. With encouragement, she decided to go to live with her daughter after her discharge. However, her husband continued to intimidate her, even threatening suicide if she did not return home.

Mary remained resolved not to go back to her husband.