Case study: Adult child at home

Patricia

Facts

Patricia’s son Robert moved into her home following several motor vehicle accidents. He had sustained serious injuries and was no longer able to work. He lacked motivation and also appeared to have mental health and personality issues.

Patricia had a small two bedroom home and initially allowed Robert to live in a caravan in the back yard. After a while, Robert objected to staying in the caravan and moved himself into the house, forcing his mother to share a bedroom with another family member. Robert’s behaviour and attitude deteriorated further and created great tension within the household. He became manipulative, demanding and abusive. Robert refused to make any financial contributions to the running of the home, purchase of food or utility costs. He also regularly demanded money from his mother and became addicted to various prescribed medications and other drugs.

Patricia became extremely unwell as a consequence of the stress and abuse and moved out of her own home. Her health deteriorated to the point that she was hospitalised for a period. She then found alternate accommodation some distance from her home. During this time of recuperation, Robert remained in Patricia’s house with two dogs and failed to clean or maintain any part of the house or property. The garden became overgrown with rubbish everywhere. Neighbours made complaints to the local Council and at one stage in summer a Fire Hazard Notice was served on Patricia as a result of the state of the property.

Patricia continued to pay rates and utility costs while Robert stayed in the house and he made additional demands for money from her. At one stage, he drove to her new home and insisted she go the ATM to give him $2,000 cash. Over a 10 month period, Patricia was coerced by Robert into giving him almost $20,000.

Action & Outcome

Patricia then sought assistance from Seniors Rights Victoria and an application for a family violence intervention order was sought on the basis of emotional, psychological and economic abuse. The Magistrate was appalled at the behaviour of Robert and made an order including an exclusion order that enabled police to assist and prevent Robert having further access to the property. Arrangements were made with police to enforce the order and a lock smith attended Patricia’s property to change the locks.

Patricia remains hopeful that her son will accept the help he needs to turn his life around and that at some time in the future they can re-establish a relationship.