Knoxville Psychological Abuse Attorney
Atkins Brezina, PLLC has established itself as the go-to firm in Knoxville for protecting vulnerable patients from abuse. In this article we will discuss psychological abuse, which is one of the most subtle and insidious forms of abuse that an elderly person can suffer. If you believe a loved one is being psychologically tormented, speak with our Knoxville psychological abuse attorney today.
Defining Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse is difficult to define because it often overlaps with other types of abuse, such as verbal or emotional abuse. However, we can define psychological abuse as the intentional infliction of fear in a victim by someone who has power over them. In the nursing home context, this person could be a nurse, doctor, orderly, or assistant.
Examples of Psychological Abuse
Someone in a position of power can psychologically abuse your loved one by:
- Isolating them from other residents and family members
- Excluding them from group activities
- Refusing to talk to them by pretending they are not there
- Telling lies to the elderly person, such as a story that their loved ones have abandoned them
- Threatening the resident as a means of control
Psychological abuse has devastating effects. Many nursing home residents slip into a fantasy world as a means of coping, while others might engage in self-harm. Unlike slapping or yelling—which might erupt out of the blue because an abuser is momentarily stressed—psychological abuse often continues for extended periods of time because the abuser enjoys the power they have over the resident.
What to Watch For
A loved one subject to psychological abuse might not be able to distinguish reality from fantasy. In fact, they might be entirely in the grips of the abuser’s world view.
If you visit a loved one, check for the following signs:
- Childlike behavior, such as rocking or sucking a thumb. This might be a coping mechanism for loved ones struggling under abuse.
- Self-harm, such as cutting or pulling hair. An elderly person might be so distressed that they deliberately hurt themselves.
- Major changes in mood, such as skittishness or depression when a loved one used to be talkative, or aggression in a resident who was always calm.
- Lies told to the resident. Your loved one might divulge that an orderly or nurse told them you had died or moved. These types of lies are usually part of psychological abuse and should immediately raise your antennae.
Take any concerns you have to the top of the nursing home organization. Speaking to an orderly or nurse could be counterproductive, especially if they are the ones abusing your loved one. Instead, go to the home’s ombudsman or similar individual.
Legal Help is Available
If a staff member is psychologically abusing your loved one, we can seek compensation in a lawsuit. Many elderly suffering from psychological abuse become sick, engage in self harm, and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. We can seek compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering in a settlement. Call Atkins Brezina, PLLC today to schedule a meeting.