Beth* was already dying when Caxton’s Family and Elder Law Team (FELT) encountered her as a client. Caxton’s involvement allowed Beth to live her final months free from the violence and controlling behaviour that had dominated the last five years of her life.
Beth was a 65-year-old woman who was referred to FELT, following concerns that she was being physically, sexually, financially and psychologically abused by Darryl, her husband of five years.
Beth reported that her husband subjected her to extensive abuse, including frequent verbal abuse, controlling behaviour such as not letting Beth contact anyone without his knowledge or presence and sexual abuse—Darryl would not take ‘no’ for an answer.
Beth said her husband intentionally tripped her on a number of occasions knowing that Beth was frail. He controlled the finances.
Beth was extremely frightened of Darryl and reluctant to take action out of fear for her own safety.
Beth had multiple serious health problems and had been told by her doctors that her life expectancy was limited as a result. Beth told FELT that she would like Darryl out of her life to enable her to ‘live in peace’ for the remainder of her life.
Caxton’s FELT team worked with Beth for over a year. FELT social workers provided domestic violence counselling and devised a safety plan as Beth received information about legal options. Care was taken to ensure Beth’s safety during this process—FELT staff had to make initial contact while Darryl was at work, ensure they only met with Beth in a safe place and called on Beth’s mobile phone.
A FELT solicitor represented Beth in court assisting her to get a domestic violence order that required Darryl to move out of the house. As things progressed, Beth made the decision to divorce Darryl, which FELT also assisted with, as well as arranging Centrelink payments so she had an income. FELT continued to provide emotional support and counselling as Beth coped with the trauma of living with an abusive spouse and adjustments to living on her own.
Despite efforts to expedite the divorce, Beth died before it was granted. However, thanks to FELT, she was able to achieve her wish to live the final months of her life in peace, free from violence and control.
*Client has been de-identified