[Editor's note: This opening quote is taken from California Law, not Irish Law. There is no comparable legal code in Ireland concerning isolation of elders. In fact you would search in vain for any law or even passing mention of Elder Abuse anywhere in Irish law. There is none. It is Dolores-Maxwell.com's goal to change this. See Why This Site.
It is indeed hard to find any jurisdiction in Western democracies that are not far, far ahead of Ireland in protecting its seniors, children, mental health patients and other vulnerable citizens in law and in fact. See the FAQ, Who Is Legally Required to Report Abuse, or UN Asks for Torture Probe, for example. ]
Dolores' last Christmas was one of isolation from her family. As recounted in A Christmas Story (which was introduced here), Ethan's attempt at isolating Dolores from her other children, and her grandchildren, was entirely successful. Dolores was not allowed to use or answer her phone except as instructed by Ethan. She did not control her whereabouts or schedule. She only saw those people Ethan permitted to see her. She went where Ethan decided. Plans affecting her life were made by Ethan with no consultation from Dolores, and no concern for her desires.
Her children were understandbly hurt and saddened to not see their mother at Christmas. Gifts chosen for Dolores by her children and grandchildren remained ungiven, saved for a future time when they might possibly see her. At least one of these gifts was placed with Dolores in her grave the following December.
It would be natural amidst the disappointment and sadness for anger to arise. Inexplicably, some of Dolores' children present at the Royal Marine Hotel that December 27th expressed their anger, not towards Ethan, but rather towards their mother. It was said many times of her that day: “She made her choices.”
The members of Dolores-Maxwell.com categorically and unanimously disagree.
To this day, some of Dolores' children repeat this statement, which we regard as a family myth. Others have changed the mythology slightly, evolving it into, "She chose to accept the abuse to protect the rest of us from Ethan.” Others consider the abuse, isolation, and humiliation suffered by Dolores at the hands of Ethan to have been God's will, in order to purify and bring Dolores to a higher level of spirituality.
We believe something very important is missing from all three of these viewpoints: an ability to see Dolores for who and what she was. Dolores was in fact a seventy nine year old, frail, tiny, tiny, old lady. She was no longer, and had not been for a long time, the energetic Mother raising ten kids. The kids are long grown now. We believe assigning virtue to any of these statements, or integrating any of them into one's belief system would inexorably lead to silence and inaction. It would also mitigate the guilt of remaining silent and leaving Dolores to the mercy of her abuser.
What choice Dolores had was best summed up in her phone call to Saoirse: “It's survival…"
Expecting little Dolores, weighing all of 7 stone – all of 97 pounds, to protect six grown men from Ethan seems a stretch. With Dolores gone, who now will protect you and your families from your little brother? Will you still even today rely on the women and children to lead and protect you?
“Your silence will not protect you.”
–Audre Lorde, Warrior Poet
[Editor's note: Regarding the third statement, we claim no special insight into God's will. ]
Many of Dolores' children invest in silence to this day.
They do not inhabit this void alone. They share it with the neighbours, Gardai, priests, doctors, nurses, home carers, solicitors and all who chose silence, and now choose to remain silent. It is the same silence that has elevated abusers and victimised the vulnerable over and over in Ireland; it is the same silence that has sought to crush anyone who would seek to break it. It is the same silence that has filled the back gardens of the Magdelene Laundries and Industrial Schools with the unmarked graves of those who were buried and left to be forgotten; gone without a tear, gone without a sound.
[Editor's note: As always, we seek and encourage anyone with knowledge of Dolores' life and/or the events presented here to contribute to this site. Clarification or alternative views are encouraged and welcomed. Memories, anecdotes, photos and documents are all welcome. Submissions ]
Athough Sophie seemed to believe that she had solved the problem in getting Ethan to
“ …just ease your grip on her.…” on December 28th, the next day found Ethan taking additional steps to isolate Dolores, not only from her family, but from the Social Services and State agencies that were in place to help her. As we will see in the next series of Dolores' Last Year, Sophie would refuse, when asked, to follow through on her statement to Saoirse: “Oh, he has no control of her finances, it's all through the solicitor. Ethan has documents to prove it. And if you want the documents about all her finances, you can have them.”
[Editor's note: We've seen not a trace of these “documents”, and conclude of course that no such documents did or could have existed. On the contrary the cornucopia of documents that we have gained sight of show the opposite.
Ethan controlled virtually every aspect of Dolores' finances. He used her as an ATM. He paid his utilities in Bray from her accounts, used her credit card for both purchases and cash withdrawals, likewise her ATM, took control of her telephone and ESB (electricity) and other accounts. Her money paid for his health insurance. He paid for his fuel with her money, bought steak and alcohol with her money, went to restaurants on her money, bought new appliances with her money, bought stamps with her money, the list goes on and on and on and on…
All of the banks and other financial institutions that Dolores used confirm that Ethan Maxwell had no authorization of any kind, at any time, to use Dolores' accounts, credit card, ATM, etc. We note that family members have reported that Ethan as far back as the very early '90's was caught forging his parents' signatures on financial instruments (which he had stolen) for his own illegal gain. He is very practised.
Dolores-Maxwell.com looks forward to publishing all this information in detail as Dolores' story unfolds on this site. ]
Nothing that transpired during Christmas 2009 alleviated Saoirse's concern for her Mom's safety. In fact, the clearer the picture became, the more frightened she was. Her Mom was isolated and controlled to the point of not being allowed to make phone calls to her own children without Ethan's permission. She had seen firsthand how Ethan had denied Dolores access to her medications earlier in December. The stories of abuse, fraud, and forgery perpetrated by Ethan that were coming to light only heightened her concern.
Her siblings' reaction to Dolores' situation frustrated and even shattered Saoirse. She would still continue to seek support from them (continuing to this present day), if only to make a call or send an email or forward information to the people and agencies with power to help Dolores; the vast majority of these requests were and are met with silence, even from those who had witnessed violence towards Dolores by Ethan and who were indeed themselves targets of his violence and various forgeries and attempted extortions. Even those of Dolores' children who had openly predicted that Ethan would murder their mother, and who believe today that those predictions were fulfilled cannot find the strength to break their silence. As reported before, strangers and extended family members stood up months before any other of Dolores' children would even make the most tepid attempt at helping their mother. We can think of no reason to consider this justifiable. In fact we find it impossible to understand.
Geoffrey Blair, the Elder Abuse caseworker, was returning from holiday on January 6th. Saoirse's hope for help for her Mom was placed there. Surely, the events of early December through Christmas would speak loud and clear of the untenable and dangerous situation Dolores was in.
[Editor's note: This page concludes the section, A Christmas Story, which began here.
The involvement of HSE Elder Abuse after Christmas, and Ethan's continued and accelerating isolation and control of Dolores' life, among other things, will be the focus of the next section of Dolores' Last Year. That section , detailing the events of January and February 2010 is called
A Winter's Tale and begins with the Introduction. ]