NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was gut-wrenching testimony Wednesday from long-time actor Mickey Rooney — the victim of what he said was terrible elder abuse.
He wants federal laws to protect millions of elderly Americans who share his predicament, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
At 90, the Rooney is used to applause, but his stage was a new one on Wednesday — a Senate hearing on elderly abuse — where he was the star witness.
“Over the course of time, my daily life became … my daily life became unbearable,” Rooney said. “I felt trapped, scared, used, frustrated and overall when a man feels helpless it’s terrible.”
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The actor, who began his career at age 2 and has walked red carpet after red carpet and even met the queen of England, told the lawmakers at the hearing about the verbal, emotional and financial abuse he endured at the hands of his stepson, Chris Aber, and his step-daughter. He said they denied him such basic necessities as food and medicine.
“For years I suffered silently. I didn’t want to tell anybody. I couldn’t muster the courage and you have to have courage to … I need help,” Rooney said. “Even when I tried to speak up I was told to shut up and be quiet, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
“It seemed no one, no one wanted to believe me.”
Rooney finally filed suit against his step-son and step-daughter last month. He told senators he decided to testify about his plight in the hope of getting legislation passed to help the millions of others he said have also been victimized.
Newly elected Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal lauded the actor for coming forward, saying he knew how hard it was to speak of these matters publicly.
“It is all too often denied and hidden and invisible and the reason often is the shame and embarrassment that comes with reporting it being a victim,” Blumenthal said.
Local geriatric experts said Rooney’s actions will mean a lot to other elderly.
“We are thrilled that Mickey Rooney is doing this. Focusing attention on the issue of elder abuse every year that it happens, lives are saved,” said Susan Ferlauto of the Elder Abuse Project.
Geriatric experts said elder abuse of the magnitude suffered by Rooney, or the socialite Brooke Astor, are rare. But instances of abuse of some kind — whether psychological, physical, sexual or financial — are a major concern among the elderly.
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