For two years, Molly, whose name was changed to protect her identity, struggled with growing debt after the loss of her main income and financial abuse by her granddaughter. Photo / 123rf
Elder abuse is a growing problem and the crime is often perpetrated by family members. An Oamaru woman breaks the silence about the extreme financial and psychological abuse she suffered at the hands of her granddaughter. Ruby Heyward reports.
For Molly, it was a scary experience, surrounded by feelings of shame and financial obstacles, but it was also the best thing that had happened to her.
For two years, Oamaru’s wife, 70, whose name was changed to protect her identity, struggled with growing debts after the loss of her main income and financial exploitation by her granddaughter.
It all started when she agreed to extend an existing loan to help her granddaughter, who was moving to town with her boyfriend.
Although she was warned about this, Molly thought her granddaughter was being honest and she wanted to help her.
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Coming to an “internal arrangement”, she loaned her granddaughter $ 11,000 and was promised that it would be paid back over time.
“She promised me beyond all her promises that she would reimburse me,” she said.
Things got worse for Molly when she was forced to quit her job at 69, due to an existing health problem.
“I received a pension and a good salary, then my income immediately fell. “
She had gone from a financial security that allowed her to lend money to a late “everything”.
Whenever she spoke to her granddaughter about repayments, she met with an onslaught of profanity.
“It was horror of the way she spoke to me.
“She completely let me down. I was left with nothing.”
Relying on board alone, Molly’s debts had snowballed so much that she could only spend $ 50 a fortnight on food.
She begged her granddaughter to give her at least $ 10 a week so that she could eat.
Her granddaughter has changed her phone number.
Then the phone calls started coming in from the banks and services that Molly owed money to.
Every time the phone rang, panic washed over her.
“Here I am, a person who looked after me pretty well, afraid of my phone.”
Even when she was able to pay her monthly bills, she couldn’t pay the interest on the building.
Not knowing what to do, Molly went to Work and Income New Zealand and was referred to the North Otago Budget Advisory Service.
Financial mentor Mary Bulatao advised him to file for bankruptcy.
“We put everything on paper to see the financial reality and asked,” Bulatao said.
Molly’s debts – up to $ 63,000 at one point – have exceeded the threshold required to file for bankruptcy.
They had the difficult task of dealing with her bankruptcy during last year’s Covid-19 lockdown, but once that was done Molly’s debts were wiped out.
“The phone calls have stopped,” Molly said.
This meant that she could no longer take out loans, could no longer travel, and had to find a new bank that would allow her to hold an account.
Bulatao was able to deal with the banks on Molly’s behalf and got an account for her pension.
“I’ll be beside myself in three years,” Molly said.
“It brought me back to life.”
For Molly, “pride” at first kept her from asking for help.
She said many of her friends believed that financial aid was not for them and that they would “just endure the cruelties.”
“These older ladies aren’t doing well, but they don’t know they can ask for help.”
Bulatao said the North Otago Budget Advisory Service was neither dictatorial nor critical.
“We’re here to help people find and work with their best options.”
She encouraged people to seek help early.
“It’s hard to help someone who is too far away.”
With her bills on track – and about to pay off the second of her three secured debts – Molly has had a new life.
However, she no longer had a relationship with her granddaughter.
“It’s bad for me. [But] I need to take care of myself. “
– Oamaru Courier