University: Where Binge Drinking And Sexual Assault Meet

⋅Today’s College Campus: a Culture of Binge Drinking, Sexual Assault, and Death⋅

We got the call from a national fraternity house at a large university in Florida on a Monday morning after a big home game and the traditional pre-game house bash. The cleanup was bigger and more lethal than the usual pre-game cleanups, which once or twice required a front loader to haul off the mountains of garbage on the lawn. This cleanup required crime-scene technicians wearing Tyvek suits and ventilated respirators—and a van marked “Medical Examiner.”

In the entry way of the fraternity house was a large pool of smeared blood with broken pieces of wood scattered in and around it.

My partner glanced up to the balcony above and pointed at a broken railing. Someone clearly had been pushed or fell, explaining the pool of blood. Then we were led upstairs to a room whose bed sheets and carpet were soaked in urine and vomit.

Outside, the medical examiner’s van was leaving with the broken, dead body of a 17-year-old girl whose blood we were about to clean up.

Her name was JJ. She was an outgoing, talented freshman. She was majoring in music performance and had been at the university less than a month.

She got so drunk at the house bash that she fell through the second-story railing to the marble entryway below. The fall killed her. We don’t know who threw up and peed all over the bedroom. We were all drunk. This is the story police were told.

The coroner’s report told a very different story.

JJ was indeed intoxicated. Her BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) at .37 was high enough that surgery could have been performed without anesthesia.

The concentration of alcohol in JJ’s blood was lethal. She could not have stood up by herself. She was in a profound state of unconsciousness, possibly comatose, when she died.

And her smashed skull was a post-mortem wound, meaning it happened after she was already dead.

The autopsy revealed that she died of asphyxiation secondary to pulmonary aspiration caused by acute alcohol poisoning. She inhaled and smothered in her own vomit. There was also evidence of sexual assault by multiple individuals.

After a grueling investigation, the truth emerged. JJ passed out in one of the bedrooms after drinking heavily and was assaulted and raped by five fraternity brothers who were also drunk. Lab tests revealed that most of the bodily fluids in the bedroom we cleaned were hers. After DNA tests revealed the identities of her attackers, they claimed the sex was consensual. A sixth brother, however, had videotaped the sexual assault, had a crisis of conscience, and turned the tape over to police in exchange for immunity.

JJ died in the bed where she vomited and urinated, and the band of assaulters panicked and shoved her body over the railing, smashing it in the process, in an attempt to hide the assault.

Like many colleges, this college did little or nothing to curb its widespread “tradition” of student binge drinking until a tragedy occurred.

Many parents, college administrators, and alumni who financially support the college ask why binge drinking is such a big deal.

We all drank in college, didn’t we? Consider the following sobering and startling statistics:

  • Death: more than 1,800 college students die every year in alcohol-related incidents.
  • Sexual Assault: every year, 100,000 college women suffer an alcohol-influenced sexual assault. In the vast majority of reported cases of sexual assault, the victim was too intoxicated to give or to deny consent. Study after study has shown that sexual assault is far more common on college campuses with high rates of binge drinking.
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease and Unintended Pregnancy: an intoxicated person is more likely to engage in unprotected sex or indiscriminate sex with a person about whom they know very little.
  • Injury: More than 500,000 college students each year are injured while they are drunk. An additional 600,000 are injured by a student who has been drinking.
  • Impaired Driving: Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report driving drunk than non-binge drinkers.

Statistical Sources:

Centers for Disease Control

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

You Can Help Make A Difference

Talk to your kids about drinking and learn the facts about alcohol poisoning and its signs. Always call 911 if you suspect alcohol poisoning and remember that both young teens and older adults are more prone to its effects due to the way their bodies process alcohol; it may take far less alcohol than you might think dangerous for them to suffer from alcohol poisoning.

Binge Drinking and Alcohol Poisoning – Get The Facts

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

  • Alcohol Poisoning is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 right away if you suspect an individual is suffering from alcohol poisoning, even if you think you may be overreacting or that they (or you) might get in trouble. It’s better to embarrass a friend or loved one than to bury them.
  • Alcohol Poisoning is a serious and sometimes deadly result of having consumed large volumes of alcohol in a short time period, as is the case with binge drinking.
  • It affects various bodily and brain functions including, but not limited to, breathing, heart rate, gag reflex, body temperature, and the ability to remain conscious.
  • It can lead to brain damage, coma and death if left untreated or if treatment is delayed.

Source: Mayo Clinic – Alcohol Poisoning

How does Alcohol Poisoning affect the body?

  • It depresses nerves controlling involuntary actions like breathing and the gag reflex. Breathing and heart beat can slow, become irregular and even stop completely as  the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) increases.
  • BAC can continue to rise even when an individual is passed out. It is dangerous to allow a severely intoxicated individual sleep it off.
  • It often causes vomiting since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach; in combination with a depressed gag reflex and breathing, individuals suffering the effects of alcohol poisoning can literally drown in their own vomit.

Source: College Drinking Prevention.gov – Alcohol Poisoning

What are the major signs and symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning?

  • Do not wait for all the signs or symptoms to be present before calling for help. Even if the individual is showing one or two signs, call 911 without delay. It could save their life.
  • A good acronym to remember is MUST HELP. If an individual is showing any of these symptoms, get help immediately!
    • M – Mental Confusion: May include being unaware of where they are, or acting in a stupor – being apparently awake but unable to respond.
    • U – Unresponsive: Cannot be awakened, or are unresponsive to your voice, shaking or pinching their skin, even if their eyes are open.
    • S – Snoring/Gasping: Many may find the snoring or gasping of a friend passed out from drinking to be funny, but it is actually a warning sign that their breathing may be depressed and should be taken very seriously.
    • T – Throwing Up: Vomiting while asleep or unconscious, especially if they do not wake up while vomiting. Always turn individuals on their side to prevent them inhaling their vomit.
    • H – Hypothermia: Skin is cold, clammy, pale, bluish, and/or blotchy.
    • E – Erratic Breathing: Breathing is slow, less than 9 breaths each minute, or there are lapses of 10 seconds or more between breaths.
    • L – Loss of Consciousness: If the person feints, passes out or falls asleep and cannot be roused, be sure to gently turn them on their side in case they vomit, and call 911 immediately. Do not leave them alone.
    • P – Paleness/Blueness of Skin: Lips, face or nails become blue tinged, or the individual appears pale.

 Source: University of Texas – Alcohol Poisoning

 

Facts Sources:

Mayo Clinic – Alcohol Poisoning

College Drinking Prevention.gov – Alcohol Poisoning

University of Texas – Alcohol Poisoning

 

We are Advanced Bio Treatment, and we are here for you 24 hours every day of the year. We offer emergency services and assistance filing insurance claims. Please call us at 800-295-1684.

 

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Senior Abuse and its Catastrophic Results

⋅Senior Abuse – Helen’s Story: The Continuation⋅

 

Click here to read Part 1 of Helen’s story.

 

After Helen moved into Pat’s home, Kay went to see Helen every week, and one day, Helen was unusually edgy and finally handed Kay a business card, which Helen had hidden in her Bible, and begged Kay not to tell Pat.

“A social worker was here last week asking me if anyone is abusing me, and, of course, I said ‘no.’”

What? You need to tell me everything, Mom. Is anyone hitting you or hurting you in any way?”

“No, absolutely not,” Helen replied.

“Then why was a social worker here? What else did the social worker say?”

“She just asked me if I was okay, what I was eating, if anyone was hurting me.”

“Mom, something isn’t right. Social workers don’t just appear out of nowhere. Someone called social services. What else did she say?”

“Oh, yes, she did say something about my bank account.”

“What? What did she say?”

“I don’t remember. Something about $3,000.”

Kay froze, the way you freeze when a catastrophic avalanche is ripping right toward you.

“Ok, Mom. I’ll take care of this. Don’t worry.”

The Catastrophic Avalanche of Senior Abuse

Kay called the social worker, who was rude and snapped, “I was told that you’re not even in the picture” and then hung up. Pat’s brainwashing had reached far and wide.

Kay called back and begged the social worker to listen to her. The social worker arranged to meet Kay and her mother a few days later. Kay lied to Pat and told Pat that she was taking her mother to lunch.

“I can’t tell you who filed the senior abuse complaint,” the social worker said, “but if I were you, I’d get to the bank immediately.”

Kay took her mother to the bank, where Kay learned that her mother’s account was frozen because it was severely overdrawn. Eighteen months ago, Pat had set up her own account into which she transferred Helen’s pensions and social security deposits every month. Then Pat withdrew the money with her ATM card. Pat had also emptied Helen’s 401K.

“How could this happen? Pat has no permissions or signature cards on these accounts!” Kay cried.

The vice president of the bank gently pushed a document across her desk to Kay. It was a power of attorney giving Tim and Pat full control of Helen’s finances.

“Tim and Pat took me to a lawyer’s office and told me to sign it so that they could pay my bills for me,” Helen said.

Kay immediately took her mother to another lawyer and had Helen give Kay full power of attorney. Kay then spent weeks collecting Helen’s mail and calling creditors.

Pat had paid none of Helen’s bills and had helped Helen take out a line of equity on her paid-off home, had run the line of equity to its $50,000 limit, and had made no payments on it.

The house was in foreclosure, a fact Pat naively hoped to conceal by moving Helen into her own home. The house also had a $4,000 tax lien on it. When you withdraw money from a 401K, the withdrawals are taxed like income, and Pat never paid those taxes.

Kay took her power of attorney to the drug store and asked for a list of Helen’s medications. The prescriptions cost over $1,000 a month and Pat paid for them with Helen’s credit card, on which Helen now owed almost $10,000, and which was in collection for non-payment.

Most disturbing, the most expensive prescription was for 360 Oxycodone pills every month.

Kay took her power of attorney to Helen’s doctor.

“Why are you prescribing my mother such a lethal dose of pain medication?” Kay wanted to know.

The doctor grew hostile and asked Kay what business this was of hers and said something very similar to what the social worker had said. “From what I understand, you’re not even in the picture!”

Kay took Helen to another doctor who tenderly held Helen’s hands in his and gently asked Helen what condition she took the Oxycodone for.

After a long pause, Helen said, “I really don’t know.”

Kay sat down with Helen and asked her exactly how many pain pills she took every day.

“Six. I get two in the morning, two at lunch, at two at night. Sometimes I don’t need the ones at night.”

That adds up to 180 pills a month. Where were the other 180 pills going every month?

“Pat says you take 12 pain pills a day, Mom, and that you’re addicted to this medication. Are you sure you take only 6?”

Helen was shocked. “I know I take only 4 to 6 pills because Pat gives them to me two at a time with each meal.”

Kay spoke with her own doctor, who verified that 12 Oxycodone pills a day over a period of years would “fry your liver.” He said Helen would be “completely out of it most of the time” if she took that much Oxycodone.

Kay called the DEA. Before she even finished asking her questions, the officer said to her, “This is common. We see it all the time. What they do is steal the older person’s medication and sell it. Those pills have a street value of at least $10 each.”

Pat’s son, a convicted felon recently released from prison, was selling the pills and splitting the profits with Pat.

Armed with weeks of research, Kay confronted Tim and Pat. After a terrible screaming match, Pat dissolved in pretend-tears while Tim made feeble excuses for her. They begged Kay not to prosecute them.

Kay had to file bankruptcy for Helen, who had to appear in court several times. The ordeal exhausted and emotionally drained Helen.

Over the next few months, Kay saved over $10,000 of Helen’s income, moved Helen back into her own home, and hired a nursing assistant to care for her.

But the devastation of this betrayal had taken a heavy toll, and a week after moving, Helen got out of bed one night to go to the bathroom. She had a massive heart attack and collapsed in her own vomit and feces, unable to move.

Kay rushed to her mother’s house when she got the call from the nursing assistant.

“I want to die,” Helen said as Kay knelt next to her on the bathroom floor.

The first responders referred Kay to Advanced Bio Treatment. She hired us to clean Helen’s room so that Kay could be with her mother at the hospital and so Helen could return to a safe, clean home.

But Helen never came home. She died, heartbroken and shamed, 10 days later.

If you know of or suspect senior abuse, please don’t wait. Early intervention could save a precious life. Please report your suspicions immediately. We have listed some helpful resources below.


What Are the Warning Signs of Senior Abuse?

Physical and behavioral indicators:

  • Suspicious explanations for or unexplained cuts, bruises, welts, burns, discoloration
  • Loss of weight, signs of dehydration or malnutrition
  • Dirty or soiled clothes
  • Lack of medical aids such as hearing aids or canes
  • Fear, withdrawal, resignation, unresponsiveness
  • Depression
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Conflicting, implausible, or contradictory statements and stories
  • Anger, anxiety, agitation
  • Denial

Caregiver and financial indicators:

  • Caregiver not allowing the senior to speak for him or herself
  • Caregiver not allowing the senior time alone with friends or family
  • Caregiver blaming and accusing the senior
  • Caregiver insulting or threatening the senior
  • Caregiver has alcohol or drug problems
  • Personal items missing from the senior’s home
  • Suspicious signatures on the senior’s checks
  • Caregiver refusing to spend money on the senior; unpaid bills when caregiver is responsible for paying bills

 

Who Is Most at Risk For Senior Abuse?

Seniors who:

  • Are disabled
  • Have dementia
  • Are lonely, isolated, depressed
  • Do not understand and / or manage their finances well
  • Have family members with financial needs or drug and alcohol abuse problems
  • Live with the abuser

 

Who Are the Abusers?

The vast majority of abusers, about 90%, are family members who typically

  • Feel burdened by caregiving responsibilities
  • Abuse drugs and alcohol
  • Are mentally or emotionally ill
  • Depend on the senior person for financial help

 

We are Advanced Bio Treatment. We are here for you 24 hours every day of the year. Should you need our services, please call us at 800-295-1684.

 

Senior Abuse Resources:

National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence – State Senior Abuse Hotlines: Get connected to resources in your state with the directory of Senior Abuse hotlines.

National Center On Elder Abuse – Frequently Asked Questions: Find answers to your questions on Senior Abuse and find resources to help.

National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse – Financial Abuse: Learn what the financial aspect of senior abuse is, what the signs are and how you can help, with resources to assist you in stopping the abuse.

HelpGuide.org – Elder Abuse and Neglect: Discover the warning signs, risk factors, prevention methods, and how to report senior abuse.

 

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The Quiet Epidemic of Elder Abuse

⋅Elder Abuse⋅

When we think of domestic violence, we think of a male partner or husband attacking his female partner or wife. But domestic violence also takes other very ugly forms, like adults who abuse vulnerable older adults, or elder abuse.

Elder abuse includes sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and physical abuse. All elder abuse is grossly underreported, and financial abuse goes the most underreported of all forms of elder abuse.

Helen’s Story – Part 1

When Helen was young, she was a firecracker. She was meticulous about her finances and her home. She was the family’s bookkeeper and a stay-at-home wife even after her children grew up. But she lost interest in everything after losing her husband of 40 years. Her two children lived nearby, but they both worked full time and could not take care of her on a daily basis, and Helen didn’t require that level of care. She had no disabilities.

Her husband had left her very well set with a generous income from two pensions plus her social security, and her lovely home was completely paid for. She also had her husband’s 401K, which had over $80,000 in it.

Her only dependency was her inability to drive. Her daughter Kay stopped in on the weekends to pay her bills, balance her checkbook, and take her to buy her groceries, and her son Tim took care of her yard.

However, Helen had never in her life lived alone, and she didn’t know what to do with herself. She was lonely and bored. Helen’s profound loneliness and depression made her an easy target for someone like Pat.

Within a very short time, Pat, Helen’s daughter-in-law, insinuated herself deeply into Helen’s life by offering the companionship Helen craved and by subtly making Helen feel more dependent than she actually was. Pat gradually began spending more time with Helen before and after driving her to doctor’s appointments and to run errands. She began cooking Helen’s meals for her, cleaning her home, managing her prescriptions, taking her shopping, and doing her laundry.

Over time, she subtly planted deep doubt and suspicion in Helen’s mind, suggesting that Kay didn’t want to help her and didn’t care about her.

She reinforced her deadly web by drawing an even uglier picture of Kay to Helen’s neighbors, acquaintances, and medical professionals.

Over time, the bitter seeds Pat planted in Helen’s fragile mind began to fester, and Helen’s relationship with Kay became very strained.

Once Pat gained Helen’s complete trust, Helen turned over her bill-paying to Pat against her daughter’s strong advice.

Pat’s final step was to move Helen into her and Tim’s home. Kay begged her mother not to move, not to give up her independence, but Helen was firmly persuaded that Tim and Pat loved her and wanted only to pamper and protect her and that Kay had abandoned her.

Helen’s decision would be fatal.

The Early Signs of Elder Abuse

Right before the move, Kay grew very suspicious when she went to her mother’s home one day and tried to talk to her mother alone. They spoke in whispers to keep their conversation private because Pat was there, lingering nervously near the bedroom door and constantly finding trivial reasons to enter the bedroom, interrupt their conversation, and linger.

“I just don’t want to live alone anymore, and they’re doing so much for me. They’re remodeling the two bedrooms in their home so that I have a bedroom and a sitting room.”

“Mom, where are they getting money for that? Tim just borrowed money from you last week to fix his truck. Pat refuses to work. Tim tells me constantly how hard things are, how Pat’s spending is out of control, how deep in debt he is. Where is this ‘remodeling’ money coming from?”

“I don’t know. I just know that what they’re doing for me is wonderful.”

When Kay asked Pat to give them some time alone, Pat stormed out of the house. When Kay went to the kitchen to get her mother something to drink, she noticed that Pat’s car was still in the driveway. After a few minutes, she saw Pat get out of the car and come toward the front door. As Pat crept quietly back into the house, Kay returned to her mother’s room and made small talk while Pat stood silently in the hall listening, thinking no one knew she was there. When Kay confronted her, Pat pretended she had returned to retrieve something she had forgotten.

Kay grew angry and asked Pat to leave. Again, Pat stormed out of the house like a child in the throes of a temper tantrum.

Kay had never liked Pat, and Pat knew it. The tension between them was palpable.

Pat was a congenital liar.

She referred to herself as an “off-duty nurse” and a “registered nurse” but had absolutely no medical training – or any other kind of training. She told Kay’s family that she had a master’s degree in clinical psychology, but she had never even attended college. She was also fluent in German, cheer captain in high school, and the daughter of a school teacher – all lies. Pat was adept at one thing: creating a persona and convincing the grossly unobservant of its veracity.

Pat was also a thief and a drug addict.

Kay had once lent Tim $1,000 so that he could make his payroll after Pat forged a check, taking it very cleverly from the back of Tim’s checkbook so that Tim would not notice the missing check until it was too late. She refused to work and had a marijuana habit that, according to Tim, cost him $400 a week. Tim incredulously defended her by saying that she did have “a little part-time job delivering marijuana for a friend.”

“You mean a dealer, don’t you?” snapped Kay.

Tim was unrelenting in his defense of Pat. He was a gentle, good man with a good heart, but he was a moral coward when it came to Pat. He would lament for hours about her and then staunchly defend her and do absolutely nothing to change his life with her.

Pat had tried hard to win Kay over and establish herself as a real “daughter” in Tim’s family. But Kay could not be won over. Kay saw through Pat and exposed her fabrications to the whole family, which enraged and embarrassed Pat. Pat’s childish and lethal response was to slowly and patiently poison Helen’s mind against her only daughter and Tim’s only sister, the person whom Pat saw as the “golden child.” Now was Pat’s chance to supplant her.

A deep sense of foreboding came over Kay, but it was unconscionable that even Pat could do anything this sinister.

Kay asked to see her mother’s checkbook.

“It’s in the desk drawer,” her mother said, pointing to the desk in the corner of her bedroom, “but please don’t touch it. Pat will get angry.”

“Mother, it’s your money! What do you mean ‘Pat will get angry’”?

“You don’t know her the way I do. It’s just easier this way. I just can’t stand the confrontations,” Helen responded.

Kay was struggling hard with her own feelings of guilt for not being attentive enough to her mother’s needs. She reasoned that Pat had stepped in where she had failed and maybe she was judging Pat—and Tim—too harshly. Tragically, Kay let those feelings cloud the glaring truth, begging to be noticed before it was too late…


 

 

Join us Friday for the Continuation and for information on Elder Abuse, who is at risk, how to recognize the signs, and how to get help if if you are being abused, or if you suspect someone you know is being abused.

 

Remember, in an emergency, call 911 or the local police department. If you believe abuse has occurred or is occurring, call the ElderCare Locator service at 800-677-1116 to be connected with your local Adult Protective Services Office.