A couple of weeks ago, I attended a workshop here in Kelowna on financial abuse of adults presented by the B.C. Association of Community Response Networks. I was given the opportunity to speak about powers of attorney, representation agreements, and civil claims that one may bring to deal with financial abuse. I also heard and learned from some excellent presenters.
Oddly, I came away with a combination of pessimism and optimism.
First, the pessimism. I have realized for a long time that in many cases it is futile for a victim of financial abuse to sue the abuser. It is costly, and in many cases the abuser doesn't have anything. The abuser has spent everything on drugs, or gambled the money away. At the workshop, I got a sense from one of the presenters, a RCMP member, how difficult it is for the police, and the crown prosecutors, to pursue criminal charges against the abuser. The victims tend to be vulnerable, and may have diminished capacity. This makes it very hard for the victims to be effective witnesses in a criminal trial.
The other cause for my sense of pessimism is the realization that abusers do not just act abusively once. They tend to carry out further acts of abuse against either the same victim, or against others.
But, I also came out of the workshop with greater optimism. There are a lot of dedicated people working through the Community Response Networks and other organizations working at preventing abuse. The key is prevention, and there are tools available.
If you are aware of or concerned that there might be abuse of an adult who appears to be vulnerable, in British Columbia you can contact a designated agency.
The B.C. Association of Community Response Networks is holding an online auction from June 1 through June 30, 2007 to raise funds. During this time period, you can get more information by visiting the website.
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