SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - We've learned only two percent of elder abuse is reported. The abuse can be more than physical -- it can range from financial abuse to mental abuse.
Elder abuse: how big of a problem is it? "It is a bigger problem than probably what law enforcement is even aware of because it's not reported as often as it should be," says Leslie Earhart with the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
In some cases the abuse is reported. In Sullivan County, Jacquelyn Dawn Black was arrested and charged with willful abuse, neglect, and domestic violence assault. "Ms. Black told a family member to record a perceived mess that she felt her disabled husband had made. The relative continued to record as Ms. Black became enraged and started slapping, beating, and verbally abusing the victim," adds Earhart.
According to court documents, this time the abuse was reported when the family member, Black's daughter, told her behavior counselor about it and showed them the video. We also learned the victim has Alzheimer's, mental health issues, and multiple medical issues. "In this case the victim had no idea that he did anything wrong. He stood there in the video and just took the abuse," says Earhart.
We went to Black's home to see if she would talk about the alleged abuse, but no one answered the door.
Allen Slagle teaches classes on elder abuse and he tells us the best-kept secret of reporting abuse is that you remain anonymous. "Once you report that, then your name is no longer mentioned you're no longer in the equation," adds Slagle.
He's encouraging people to report anything that looks suspicious. "A lot of times they don't want to get involved. All it takes is a phone call," says Slagle.
Adult Protective Services is involved and working to find placement for Black's husband for his protection.
Black is out on a $10,000 bond.