Elder sexual abuse occurs when any unwanted or forced behavior that is sexual in nature takes place. Many times, the effects of sexual abuse are long-lasting and can require years of treatment. It is important to understand the signs of abuse to help stop and prevent cases that could be happening around your loved one. If you notice any of the following signs of elder sexual abuse in your family member, get help immediately. They could be in danger.
- Unexplained bruising, cuts, scrapes, or signs of physical trauma
- Complaints or fear of a particular person or nursing home staff member
- Change in personality
- Signs of anxiety or depression
- Sleeping difficulties
- Presence of sexually transmitted diseases
- Torn or bloody underclothing
- Difficulties sitting or walking
- Decline in attention to personal hygiene
- Lower self-esteem
These are but a few of the many signs that something could be wrong. The more you know about the signs of elder sexual abuse, the more prepared you will be to report suspicious behavior and prevent these terrible events from happening to someone you love or those around them.
No one should make sexual advances towards you or your loved one without consent. This includes verbal advances, or any type of behavior that is unwelcomed or makes a person uncomfortable. Consent means permission for any type of behavior.
In some cases, elderly individuals lack the ability to verbally or physically consent or object to an action. Not being able to clearly communicate an objection does not equate to consent. If consent is not given for any type of verbal or physical action, it is possible that abuse has occurred.
Perpetrators of sexual abuse towards the elderly come in different forms. In most cases, the perpetrator is someone a victim knows. This could be a staff member at a nursing home, acquaintance, visitor, friend, family member, or person left alone with the victim. If you think your loved one is being sexually abused, keeping an eye out for the warning signs of elder sexual abuse will help you know when to report that something might be wrong.
Vulnerability of the Elderly
It is sad and maddening to consider that the elderly people in your life might be victims of abuse. Unfortunately, elderly individuals are sometimes targeted by abusers for several reasons.
As people age, they experience a gradual deterioration in physical and mental capacity. This can create impairment if it becomes severe. Older individuals might become forgetful, lose the ability to articulate, and grow less aware of surroundings. Sometimes elderly adults report incidents of abuse but authorities do not fully take their account seriously, on behalf of mental impairment. All of these factors contribute to a vulnerability that abusers can prey on.
Physical impairment can also play a role in abusers targeting the elderly. If an older person is less able to fight back or escape a dangerous situation, this plays into the hands of the perpetrator.
The elderly population is also at risk for environmental reasons. Many dependent adults rely on caregivers to help with daily needs. This creates the potential for more private settings in which elder abuse can occur.
Nursing home residents and elderly adults are prone to injury due to age, not to mention the emotional toll that abuse takes on victims and family members. If you suspect that a loved one is experiencing elder sexual abuse, there are ways you can get help.
Getting Legal Help
If you believe your loved one in a nursing home is experiencing sexual abuse, or if you noticed signs of elder sexual abuse, get help immediately. You can report any suspicion to a person of authority. This could be a manager in the nursing home or a police officer. This is a serious matter and your loved one’s safety could be in danger. Once their safety is secure, they may also need medical attention.
In the aftermath of abuse, sometimes victims consider taking legal action against perpetrators. In some cases, there is financial compensation available for medical expenses and potentially other forms. No two situations are alike, so speaking with a nursing home abuse lawyer could be beneficial in understanding your options. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is a team that handles cases of elder sexual abuse. Call today for a free consultation at (800) 842-6336.