A new service can provide legal help to older Wisconsin residents. The Elder Rights Project will provide statewide civil legal aid to elder abuse victims, age 60 and over, regardless of income.
Director Nicole Zimmer said elder abuse covers a range of things. “Things that we might think about, like physical abuse, or sexual abuse. But it also includes emotional abuse, name calling and threats and things like that, and it includes financial exploitation,” Zimmer said.
The service has been available in Milwaukee County, but Zimmer said they routinely receive calls for help from the rest of the state. “Up until recently we had to say no, but now we got funding to expand,” Zimmer said, explaining that the project is funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act. VOCA victim assistance grants are provided to private and public agencies to support direct services to victims of crime.
The the statewide toll-free Elder Abuse Intake Line at 844-614-5468. “The victim can call in Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:00, and they’ll get a live person answering their phone call,” Zimmer said. “We’re happy to take an initial call from anybody, but then we’re going to circle back and talk to the victim directly.”
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported that 6,347 reports of elder abuse were made in 2014, a 95 percent increase from 2001. It is also estimated that for each case reported, five remain unreported