Eileen’s Story

Eileen was first referred to Leeds Domestic Violence Service Community Team at the age of 89 after suffering years of financial abuse at the hands of her son and grandson, the only family members she had.

After a period in hospital Eileen returned home one day to find that the locks to her home had been changed and that items of furniture had been removed by her son to furnish his own property with his new partner. When Eileen was forced to contact him he became verbally abusive and threatening towards her, which made her feel scared and anxious.

Once we started working with Eileen she disclosed that her son had financially abused her over many years, as a result of which she had given him in excess of £100,000, and her grandson a sum of around £30,000, which he told her was for ‘safe keeping’.

We discovered Eileen was living on a small pension, which her grandson was also able to access through a bank card he held for the account. He would often withdraw her pension before she was able to, leaving her with little to live on.

During Christmas of that year her son had promised he would collect Eileen on Christmas Eve for a family Christmas at his house; he never turned up, leaving Eileen alone.

Our Community Domestic Violence Team immediately did everything they could to support Eileen with welfare rights, making sure she was getting everything she was entitled to. We supported her to open a new bank account that her pension could be paid into. We had discussions with her about applying for a more suitable home, as she was struggling to get up the stairs and the property she was in did not have central heating.

We were able to support her to attend GP appointments, and make referrals to Housing, Adult Social Care and the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) for additional support.

Although offered the chance, Eileen felt unable to move out of the family home, and she did not want to report her son or grandson, as she feared she wouldn’t see her family again.

When Eileen turned 93, her grandson moved in to her home, and once again has taken control of her finances, bank card, removed her mobile phone and had the landline disconnected. Neighbours heard a disturbance and feared for Eileen’s safety, the police were called and a new referral was made.

We discover her grandson has a drug and alcohol problem, and despite being removed a number of times by the police and safety measures put in place to keep him away, Eileen always let him return and always declined to prosecute.

A few years later Eileen once again needed our support. She had fled the home in fear of her grandson and was discovered by the police in such a state she was taken to hospital. Even after this Eileen still did not want to press any charges, and so the abuse continued. 

Over time Eileen’s health deteriorated and she spent time in and out of hospital. At the same time her grandson spent periods of time serving custodial sentences most of which were not in relation to offenses committed against Eileen.  

Our Community Team supported Eileen on and off for 6 years, each time helping her to access benefits, change bank accounts, access food parcels and encouraging her to report the abuse and have her son and grandson prosecuted. Each time Eileen found it difficult to press criminal charges, as she feared being left alone. 

Although advanced in years, Eileen was always deemed to have the capacity to make her own decisions and so made the choice throughout the 6 years we supported her, to maintain her relationships with her son and grandson through fear of loneliness. Despite our best efforts and some periods of respite from her abusive family, Eileen passed away still suffering the impacts of abuse at the hands of the family she loved.

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