Sexual abuse in nursing homes is likely more prevalent than you might realize. The systems that nursing home administration put in place to prevent sexual abuse of residents are often not effective.
If you suspect that your loved one has suffered sexual abuse or another form of mistreatment in the nursing home where they currently live or lived in the past, you may want to take action. Call a Phoenix sexual abuse lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free consultation.
Types of Sexual Abuse
Sexual assault comprises many types of actions. All types, however, hold one thing in common: They happen against the victim’s will or without their consent. Sexual assault also covers actions that occur when an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, disabled, or below the age of consent in the state where the assault transpired.
The National Institute of Justice lists the following activities as forms of sexual assault when they happen in the above circumstances:
- Intentionally touching the victim’s genitals, breasts, groin, or anus
- Exposing the victim to exhibitionisms
- Exposing the victim to pornography
- Publicly displaying images taken of the victim in a “private context” or without their knowledge
These actions may or may not involve the use of actual force, weapons, threats of force, intimidation, coercion, or pressure.
Although in some states, sexual assault stops short of attempted rape or rape, other states use the terms interchangeably, and still others consider rape to be a form of sexual assault. In a situation of rape, the victim suffers nonconsensual penetration (vaginal, anal, or oral), either by objects or the perpetrator’s body parts. This type of assault involves physical force or threats of physical harm. Alternatively, the victim is considered a minor or was incapacitated at the time of the assault.
Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Sexual abuse against an elderly person is defined as “nonconsensual sexual contact of any kind with the older person,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Sexual abuse in nursing homes is the most hidden form of elder abuse, as it is widely underreported, according to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. That is most likely why statistics show that 0.6% of older persons were sexually abused.
The systems set up to report sexual abuse often fail as well, with many cases falling under “physical abuse” instead.
Some of the reasons why sexual abuse goes under-reported by nursing home residents may include:
- They trust their caregivers, even when they are being taken advantage of.
- They may not be capable of understanding that someone is sexually abusing them.
- They may not be able to communicate clearly or completely for a variety of reasons.
- They may feel fear, potentially based on threats from the perpetrator.
Beyond the reasons why an older adult may not report sexual abuse, nursing home residents are at an increased risk for sexual abuse. Some reasons for this may include:
- They may be physically frail, and therefore unable to defend themselves from sexual abuse.
- They may have a smaller social circle than those who do not live in a nursing home.
- A nursing home may not have clear systems for reporting abuse, and therefore a perpetrator may have more power than they should over the victim.
A caregiver, staffer, another resident, or another party in a nursing home may have an outsize level of power over your loved one, and therefore your loved one could be at risk of sexual abuse if one or more of those people turns out to be a sexual abuser.
Look Out for Signs of Sexual Abuse
Because of all the risk factors of both abuse and the possibility that the abuse may not go reported, it is important that you keep an eye out for any signs that your loved one is being sexually abused—or mistreated in any way.
One difficulty with identifying sexual abuse in your loved one is that you may not generally be in a position to see symptoms such as:
- Genital bleeding
- Redness or other possible signs of sexual activity that may be nonconsensual
- Bruising around the breasts or pelvic region
It is important that you look for signs of abuse in general and be persistent with your loved one if you suspect they are holding back from you. Possible signs of abuse, according to the National Institute on Aging, include:
- Signs of a depressed mood
- Withdrawal from activities that they typically enjoy
- Changes in their interaction with you, especially if it includes less excitement either to see you or when they are interacting with you
- Signs of physical trauma, such as bleeding, healed cuts, bruises, or burns
- Changes in their mood that may indicate fear or anxiety
- Apparent signs of fear directed at a specific caregiver, staffer, or resident
- Unexplained weight or hair loss
- Signs of neglect, such as bedsores, body odor, or a generally unkempt appearance
Because sexual abuse is hard to detect in your loved one, unless they open up to you about it, it is crucial that you take any significant change in their mood, appearance, or behavior as a possible sign that they are being mistreated. After getting them the medical attention they need and speaking with authorities, you may see how a lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm could help you by calling our team today.
For a free legal consultation with a Sexual Abuse Lawyer serving Phoenix, call (800) 794-0444
Take Steps to Prevent Further Harm to Your Loved One
If you believe that your loved one has suffered any mistreatment, you may want to contact local law enforcement. They may conduct an independent investigation that could shed light on your suspicions.
Depending on the outcome of criminal investigations and other proceedings, you may choose to bring legal action against one or more parties who could be responsible for abusing or otherwise mistreating your loved one. In this case, a lawyer might be able to help you handle any lawsuit that you choose to bring from its beginning to its completion.
Your loved one may ultimately prove eligible to recover compensation for costs associated with their time at a nursing home where mistreatment occurred, as well as other losses that stemmed from their mistreatment.
Phoenix Sexual Abuse Lawyer Near Me (800) 794-0444
Call a Phoenix Sexual Abuse Lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Today
As legal representatives for you or your loved one, our goal would be to prevent your loved one from enduring further harm. Call our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to find out how we may be able to help. We work on a contingency-fee-basis, which means that there are no up-front costs for our clients. We do not get paid unless we win them compensation.