Rise Above Crime: A New CAC Program

In 1996, John found himself suddenly living alone. His wife died and that was the first time in his 76 years he was by himself. His son and daughter were married and lived away. His daughter lived the closest – about 80 miles from him.

John’s wife, Sharon, had done all the work around the home – the housecleaning, laundry and cooking all the meals. John never did any of these and suddenly he was overwhelmed with all he had to do.

The Mistake of Hiring the Wrong Person

He realized he needed help and started to look for a housekeeper.  He talked to his pastor and the pastor told him of a woman at the church who was working as a housekeeper for other families in the area.  John talked to this woman. She seemed nice. So, he hired her.

She started to work for him 6 months after Sharon died.

In 1999, John noticed a small vase with flowers was missing from a table in his living room. It caught his attention because that was a vase he purchased for Sharon years ago. Sharon really loved it.

That prompted John to look around the house. He found much of Sharon’s jewelry was missing. He called his daughter and asked if she could come over for a weekend.  After she arrived. John told her about the missing vase and Sharon’s missing jewelry.

After Sharon’s death, his daughter had gone through the house and knew what Sharon and John had. During that weekend, she went through everything. Many other things had disappeared. She and John made a list of everything missing.

Initially, John just wanted to let the housekeeper go. He would tell her he no longer needed her services.  His daughter insisted he report the missing items to the police and ask them to investigate.  Reluctantly he did.

The police checked with the other people this woman worked for. In each instance, they found valuable items were missing. The police got a search warrant for her home and found many of the items there.

Eventually she was convicted of theft. However, she was only able to return about 25% of what she stole.

After that it became very difficult for John to trust anyone, especially those who worked as housekeepers.

Louise and Her Grandson

Louise lived by herself following her husband’s death from 1993 until 2002. That year, she turned 77 and her daughters didn’t think it was a good idea for her to live alone any longer. So, they got her 22 year-old grandson to stay with her. This seemed to be ideal. Her grandson got free room and board, Louise would no longer be alone.

In June of 2005, Louise went to her family doctor for her annual physical. While his aide was taking her blood pressure, she noticed a bruise on Louise’s arm. Louise told her she had just hit her arm on a door frame at home.  The aide mentioned the bruise to her doctor.

When the doctor came in to examine Louise, he asked her about the bruise.   As he was examining her, he saw Louise wince with pain. When he checked, he saw bruises on Louise’s back.

On further questioning, the doctor learned her grandson had been abusing Louise. He was taking drugs and once a week he would take her to the bank to withdraw money for him to buy drugs. Whenever she protested, he would hit her.

The doctor reported the abuse to the police. The grandson was arrested. Afterward, Louise was afraid of her grandson because he threatened her. The trauma also had caused her to be afraid of younger men.

Stories Like John’s and Louise’s are Fairly Common.

The problem always has been

  • older people have been reluctant to report abuse because of the fear they should have known better or of how a family member victimizing them might retaliate, and.
  • not knowing who to turn to for help.

The Office on Aging of the Knoxville Knox County Community Action Committee has started a new program to help older adults in situations where elder abuse is occurring.

The Rise Above Crime Program

It is a free program for people 50 and older residing in Knoxville or Knox County who are victims of physical, sexual, or psychological violence; neglect; or economic exploitation and fraud.

It is staffed by caring professionals. Their job is to help these people to overcome the trauma from any abuse they have experienced.

When a victim of abuse contacts the Office on Aging, they are assigned to a case worker who takes a history and does a needs assessment to determine what help they need.

  • If the person decides to take legal action, they will tell them about the criminal justice system, accompany them to their interview with the police, help them get legal representation, if necessary, guide them in completing any forms and assist them in obtaining an order of protection or a restraining order.
  • If safety is a concern, they will help them get the safety protection they need .
  • They will help them get any benefits they are entitled to.
  • If they need transportation to and from meetings, it will be arranged.
  • If the person does not speak English, they will get an interpreter for them.

Whenever necessary, their caseworker will also refer them to outside counselors and therapists. If they have medical needs, they will be referred to a medical professional. If help with housing or care in their home is needed, they will refer them to community services.

This program Is a fantastic addition to the programs the Office on Aging offers to help older people here in Knox County.

Call (865) 524-2786 If you are a victim of abuse.  Please call the people in the Rise Above Crime program. They are ready to provide any help you or your family member or friend needs.

If one of your family members or friends is a victim of abuse, you can call the people working in the Rise Above Program and let them know about it. A case worker will contact your family member or friend directly, let them know of their services and ask if they can be of help to them.


If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is bob.ooablog@gmail.com.