National Toll-free Elder Abuse Helpline highlights the suffering of elders

Tafta commemorated Elder Abuse Awareness Day on the 15th June by highlighting the prevalence of this hidden shame in society. Staff and our Durban community were encouraged to wear something turquoise to spread awareness of elder abuse.

Worldwide, many victims are too afraid to speak out, because often the abusers are family members or care-givers. Elders’ instincts are to shield them by keeping the shameful secret. Or they fear reprisal and an escalation of abuse if they expose perpetrators.

For the entire month of June, our focus was on promoting our National Toll-Free Elder Abuse Helpline, which launched in November last year. Since then, we’ve received in excess of 1 500 calls from all parts of South Africa as at 31 May 2023. Some calls came from deep rural areas where services and resources are scarce.

In the past, most complaints have been from female victims. But the anonymity of the helpline has encouraged more men to open up. In addition to providing crisis counselling, we passed on 143 written referrals to service providers in these areas.

If you suspect someone may be a victim of elder abuse, please share our toll-free helpline number – 0800 10 11 10 – or call us yourself. You may remain anonymous if you prefer, and you could save a frightened elder from further physical, sexual, mental or financial harm.