Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland joined the Family Safety Center, the Senior Protection Coalition, and the Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse (CREA) in launching a countywide campaign – Speak Out -- that challenges residents to join the fight against elder abuse in our community.

The multimedia campaign kicked-off on June 13.

“Most of the elder abuse cases that we handle involve more than one form of abuse, which is why the Speak Out campaign highlights neglect, financial abuse and exploitation,” says Olliette Murry-Drobot, executive director of the Family Safety Center, which handles the care coordination for CREA.

“These are complex situations and it’s not unusual for one case to involve up to six agencies. CREA brings together a wide variety of experts that are critical to keeping older adults safe,” she said.

“We think the community is ready for this type of campaign. Unfortunately, this abuse is more common than you think. The signs are very subtle, so our approach is a variation of “if you see something, say something,” said Rick Masson, executive director of the Plough Foundation, which helped fund CREA.

“The Plough Foundation has focused on the well-being of our seniors for a number of years, and CREA represents an important component of the Foundation’s broader Aging Initiative.“

United Way of the Mid-South contributed to the Speak Out Memphis campaign as part of its ongoing effort to address priority issues in the community.

“Our Driving The Dream initiative strengthens the ability of nonprofits across our region to connect people in poverty to the right services for help. It is a transformative human services system of care designed to move people from where they are to where they dream to be,” says Cecelia Johnson-Powell, Director of Community Impact. “Older adults in our community deserve our attention and protection.”

Led by a team of professional victim advocates and care coordinators, CREA’s multi-disciplinary team connects older adults to the resources they need to be safe and independent including victim advocacy, law enforcement, healthcare services, legal support, and housing assistance. In most cases of elder abuse, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows and trust; two-thirds of perpetrators of elder abuse are related to their victims. That’s why CREA care coordinators and other CREA team members are housed at the Family Safety Center, where the infrastructure is in place to provide civil, criminal, health, and social services to victims who know their abusers.

As part of the campaign, SpeakOutMemphis.org will include tips on how to identify abuse and ways to connect with older adults who may need help. Speak Out Memphis was created by S2N Design, a Memphis-based branding and marketing firm.

Although Tennessee law requires reporting suspicion of abuse or neglect, the majority of incidents will most likely be unreported. Report concerns of elder abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS) in Tennessee. Call 888-APS-TENN to investigate allegations.

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