Sexual abuse of our senior family members in nursing home care is hard to talk about. However, our elderly, some of our nation’s most vulnerable people, can be sexual abuse victims. Sexual assault of the elderly may include rape or other forms of sexually charged abuse or battery.
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If an elder you know was sexually abused in a nursing home, we encourage you to contact us as soon as you possibly can.
Signs of Elderly Sexual Assault
- Bruised breasts or buttocks
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding or bloody and/or torn underwear
- Development of vaginal infections or venereal diseases.
Elder sexual assault may have serious consequences to elder persons and their families, including life-threatening bodily injuries, hospitalization, sudden death or severe withdrawal or depression. The consequences might not extend to the perpetrators of elderly sexual assault. Unfortunately, law enforcement is NOT called in following signs of elderly sexual abuse and all too often the perpetrators are not seriously reprimanded. Even worse, following employee termination (if it comes to that), the perpetrator’s history of sexual assault is generally not recorded, meaning that he or she can easily start new jobs and continue hurting others.
Elder sexual assault is a hard topic and something no one wants to experience – much less discuss openly. But when it happens to someone you love, it becomes very clear: You can’t hide from this. Perpetrators of sexual assault are very unlikely to stop hurting others unless they have been apprehended and held accountable.
Elder Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes May Be More Common Than You Think
It’s the Big Secret that NOBODY wants to talk about. Elder sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes — and might be more common than you think, or than we even know.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
According to an important study titled “The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study,” for approximately every single known case of elder abuse reported to the authorities in New York, there are 24 unknown, unreported cases. This ratio is considered valid for the rest of the U.S. as well.
What Role Does Government Have in Fighting Abuse?
Both federal and local state governments have a big hand in fighting abuse in nursing homes. In fact, the federal government is the largest contributor to nursing home care — mostly via Medicare and Medicaid. As a result, there are federal health and safety standards that are used to help protect nursing home residents from potential abuse through the use of mandatory annual inspections. In addition, states are required by law to investigate individual abuse complaints.
What’s the Basic Definition of Elder Sexual Abuse?
Elder sexual abuse is defined as any type of sexual contact with an elderly person without the elder’s consent. The elder may be pressured or forced into sexual contact, or restrained or even drugged. Sexual contact includes sexual acts as well as inappropriately undressing elders, fondling, or forcing elders to watch sex acts or pornographic material.
“An Elderly Person I Know May Have Been Sexually Abused — What Can I Do?”
Cases of sexual abuse are extremely sensitive and it may be hard to even acknowledge the warning signs or discuss your worries with a family member. But, for your loved one’s sake, it is important to do so.
If you suspect abuse, take written notes about what you are seeing. You may want to seek the help of clergy or other family members to talk gently with your loved one to see if they express knowledge about what might have happened. When you feel you have sufficient “findings,” go to the nursing home management and express your concerns in writing. Immediate options to protect your loved one may be: requesting increased security, increased nurse monitoring, change in staff or change in facility.
In addition to safeguarding your loved one, you may be able to file an elder sexual assault lawsuit. A sexual elder abuse lawsuit can help recover the expensive medical bills or hospitalization stays that may have been associated with the abuse and help you and your family get the financial compensation you need. Filing a sexual elder abuse lawsuit also helps you send a message to nursing homes around the country that we will protect the most vulnerable.