(WASHINGTON) -- Actor Mickey Rooney is scheduled to speak out against elder abuse before a Senate committee on aging Wednesday.
The 90-year-old actor has been the alleged victim of abuse at the hands of his own stepchildren, according to court documents.
Rooney, who has had one of the longest careers of any actor, was recently granted court protection from stepson Chris Aber and his stepdaughter Christina Aber, after he filed a case against them charging verbal, emotional, and financial abuse, and alleging that they denied him such basic necessities as food and medicine.
"All I want to do is live a peaceful life, to regain my life and be happy," Rooney said in a statement to his fans. "I pray to God each day to protect us, help us endure and guide those other senior citizens who are also suffering."
The goal of the Senate hearing, entitled "Justice for All: Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation," is to draw attention to the widely underreported problem and coordinate federal, state and local efforts to combat it.
"It's a really sad but important issue and Mr. Rooney is definitely lending his star power to it," committee spokesman Joe Bonfiglio said.
According to court documents, Chris and Christina Aber allegedly kept Rooney as "effectively a prisoner in his own home" through threats, intimidation and harassment. Christina Aber has also been accused of taking control over Rooney's finances, blocking access to his mail, and forcing the actor into performances he does not wish to do.
Rooney was granted temporary restraining orders on Feb. 15, but will have to appear in court on April 5 if he wants them extended for three years. A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge also appointed a temporary conservator of Rooney's estate.
While elder abuse of this magnitude is relatively rare, geriatric experts say instances of some kind of abuse and neglect -- whether psychological, physical, sexual or financial -- are a major concern among aging populations. According to the American Psychological Association, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans become victims somewhere on the spectrum of abuse.
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