Abuse Case Studies
NOTE: The names of all participants have been changed to protect their privacy
Carolyn is 21-years-old, and autistic with moderate intellectual disabilities. She attends a special school program to assist with her disabilities. On a recent field trip, Carolyn’s teacher left her and two male students unsupervised in the school van for a brief period of time. While the teacher was gone, one of the young men took Carolyn’s shirt off, fondled her bare breasts, and took a picture of them. When the students returned to school, he showed the pictures to other students. Carolyn told her mother about what happened and her mother contacted APS for help.
APS assisted by:
- Helping Carolyn and her mother apply for victim assistance counseling services to help her cope with the distress she was experiencing
- Facilitating the process of transferring the young man to another school which could provide more adequate supervision
- Working with Carolyn’s school to improve overall student supervision
Mrs. Althea Johnson is an 83-year-old widow. She and her son, Ronald, live together. A family member called APS on Mrs. Johnson’s behalf after receiving a call from her to report that Ronald had pulled her hair, yelled at her, and called her a “stupid bitch.” Mrs. Johnson made the call from her locked bedroom and whispered throughout because she was frightened that her son would hear her voice on the telephone. When APS met with Mrs. Johnson, she told the worker in detail about her son’s abusive behavior and reported that she was afraid of him.
APS assisted by:
- Contacting police, verifying that a crime report had been filed, and confirming that the son was being charged with a crime
- Transporting Mrs. Johnson to the courthouse and assisting her in the process of filing restraining orders
- Accompanying Mrs. Johnson to the emergency restraining order hearing in the courtroom
- One month later, transporting and accompanying Mrs. Johnson to the hearing for a permanent restraining order
In the end, Mrs. Johnson was thankful she was able to resume living peacefully in her house without threat of abuse by her son.
Ms. Ewell, an adult who suffered from mental and physical limitations, resided in a skilled nursing facility. APS received a report that someone at the facility had shoved Ms. Ewell’s head through a wall in her room.
While the perpetrator was unknown, there was a hole in the wall and bruises on Ms. Ewell’s body consistent with the reported abuse. Facility staff denied the allegations, claiming that she had suffered the injuries from an undocumented fall. The staff stated they laid her down, but did not seek medical attention or notify doctors of her injuries. Much later, Ms. Ewell was found unresponsive and staff summoned help by calling 9-1-1. After being transported to the hospital by ambulance, Ms. Ewell died a short time later.
APS assisted by:
- Investigating the reported abuse and collecting evidence that substantiated Ms. Ewell had been abused by the skilled nursing staff
- Notifying appropriate licensing authorities and collaborating to initiate corrective actions against the facility
- Ensuring that law enforcement and the Medical Examiner’s Office were included in the investigation to pursue possible criminal charges
Guido and Marina Rossini
Mr. Guido Rossini is a 74-year-old Italian American who suffers from multiple health problems and dementia. He came to APS’s attention because he was in the hospital due to a fall and would soon be ready for discharge home. However, his wife of 15 years, Marina, did not want him to come home because during the past year, Mr. Rossini’s dementia had manifested in very violent outbursts, almost all of which targeted injuring his wife. For example, he threw her to the floor and broke her ankle and while she was on the ground, punched her in the head with his fists and bit her. On another occasion he threatened to kill her and brandished a large kitchen knife to try to stab her.
Despite the physical and verbal abuse, Marina did not report it to the police or APS because Mr. Rossini had threatened to kick her out of the house if she said anything. She was afraid for her life if Mr. Rossini returned home.
The doctor was aware of Mr. Rossini’s violent behavior, but thought new medications had resolved them. The MD described Mr. Rossini as “a different person” and because Mr. Rossini had recuperated from his fall, felt he no longer needed hospital care and intended to send Mr. Rossini back home.
APS collaborated with doctors to re-evaluate Mr. Rossini’s condition. In reviewing all the information and tests, they concluded that controlling Mr. Rossini’s violent behavior and other care needs could not be adequately managed at home. Furthermore, his wife, Marina, was fearful for her safety because of his outburst and refusal to comply with prescribed medications.
APS advocated for Mr. Rossini to be placed in a long-term care facility where he would receive more care and supervision since discharging him home would not be safe for either Mr. or Mrs. Rossini. The doctors agreed to collaborate with Mrs. Rossini and APS to assist in locating an appropriate placement. Mr. Rossini was ultimately discharged to a dementia-care facility where he receives around-the-clock care and supervision.
APS assisted by:
- Assessing the safety and medical condition of both Mr. and Mrs. Rossini
- Working with each spouse individually to evaluate their needs and wishes
- Coordinating care with medical providers and the long-term care facility to ensure appropriate care and safety for both Mr. and Mrs. Rossini