"She just got harder and harder to look after": A Discourse Analytic Case Study of Elder Abuse

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
de Wit, Paula
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
As our population ages, it is anticipated we will see more and more cases of elder abuse (Young, 2014). With that said, elder abuse is often obscured from view because it typically takes place behind closed doors in family homes or in institutional settings. Victims are often among the most vulnerable members of society, many of whom have limited access to the outside world due to complex medical conditions which may render them physically frail, cognitively impaired, and in extreme cases, non-verbal. This thesis examines transcripts of the police interview with Ontario nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer who pleaded guilty to murdering eight older adults in her care. Using the Interactional and discursive view of violence and resistance (Coates & Wade, 2007) as my theoretical frame, I will take a discourse analytic approach to demonstrate how the language of perpetrators of elder abuse can be used both to conceal their violence and the victim's resistance. I will further discuss how these narratives serve to mitigate the responsibility of the perpetrators of elder abuse and blame the victims.
elder abuse , concealing violence , mitigating responsibility , response-based approach , victim blaming
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess