Many nursing home residents need their caregiver’s help to perform basic daily tasks. They may be physically frail and unable to get around without assistance and mobility aids. They may have cognitive impairments, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, that cause confusion and make it difficult to communicate and attend to their own needs.
Often, these very conditions are the reason they require nursing home care. They are the same reasons that leave them vulnerable and unable to fight back against sexual abuse. The idea that your loved one is experiencing sexual abuse in their nursing home is unthinkable. The pain, guilt, sadness, and trauma your loved one and your family have suffered are unimaginable.
People who prey on the old and weak, especially in such an intimate and violating manner, should be punished. An Austin sexual abuse lawyer can help seek compensation for your loved one’s suffering. The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understands that sexual abuse cases can be difficult for victims and their families. We aim to serve you with the highest degree of sensitivity and compassion. Call our offices at (800) 842-6336.
Understanding and Recognizing Sexual Abuse
According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, sexual abuse is any sexual act committed without consent. Sexual abuse can happen to any nursing home resident, but women and dementia patients are at a higher risk. Sexually abusive behaviors include:
● Verbal sexual harassment
● Oral sex
● Forced nudity
● Unwanted exposure to pornography
● Taking nude or sexually explicit photographs, videos, or audio recordings
If your loved one is experiencing sexual abuse, you may notice bruising on their inner thighs and private areas. There may also be signs of genital bleeding or irritation. Your loved one may contract a sexually transmitted disease or genital infection. They may begin to suffer from mental health conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. They may seem agitated, fearful, or withdrawn.
Sexual Abuse Is Underreported
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), victims may not speak up about sexual abuse out of fear. Many nursing home residents need their abusers to provide basic needs, like meals, healthcare, and mobility assistance. They could be afraid that reporting their abuser could lead to retaliation, punishment, and withholding necessities.
Sometimes, if the abuser is someone close to the victim, they may not want to see them get into trouble. Other victims may be ashamed and engage in self-blame. Victims with cognitive disabilities may be unable to speak out or worry that no one will believe them. They may have difficulty remembering and reporting specific details about the abuse.
Nursing home staff are not the only perpetrators of abuse. Abusers can be anyone with access to the nursing home, including visitors and other residents. However, regardless of who committed the abuse, the nursing home had a responsibility to protect your loved one.
Be Aware of Other Forms of Abuse
If your loved one is experiencing sexual abuse, chances are, they may be suffering from other types of abuse, as well. Elder abuse can include:
● Physical abuse
● Emotional (psychological) abuse
● Financial abuse
If you think your family member is being abused in any way, get help. You should remove your loved one from any situation where they are suffering harm. It is a good idea to seek medical treatment for any injuries or illnesses. You can also reach out to an attorney.
An Austin sexual abuse lawyer can make sure your allegations get reported to the local authorities and that the nursing home and its staff undergo investigation. A lawyer will work to prove the nursing home was negligent, and their actions led to your loved one’s suffering. Call our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for a no-obligation consultation today.
For a free legal consultation with a Sexual Abuse Lawyer serving Austin, call (800) 842-6336
Sexual Abuse Is Punishable in Criminal and Civil Court
Abuse against nursing home residents is illegal under both state and federal laws. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations §483.12 guarantees the right of residents to live in nursing homes free from abuse, including corporal punishment and physical isolation. Texas Health and Safety Code §242.001 offers the same rights on the state level.
Texas Penal Code §22.011 outlines what qualifies as criminal sexual assault and states that the courts can charge those found guilty of this crime with a felony. The law mentions that sexual assault has occurred if:
● The perpetrator knew the victim could not consent because of mental health issues.
● The perpetrator forced the victim to consent under threats of physical violence.
● The victim was physically unable to resist.
● The perpetrator is a mental health services provider or healthcare provider who forced consent based on the victim’s dependence upon them.
● The perpetrator is an employee of the facility where the victim lives.
Any criminal proceedings against the people who hurt your family member are separate from your lawsuit. An Austin sexual abuse lawyer can help you file your case in civil court. While a criminal court may punish the perpetrator with a prison sentence, a civil lawsuit seeks to make them pay their victims for the damages they have caused.
Damages can include the actual dollar amount spent to provide your loved one with medical care for their injuries. It may also include awards for future needs, like physical therapy or relocation to another nursing home. Non-economic damages provide awards to compensate your loved one for their physical and mental suffering. In some cases, a court may punish the defendant with additional punitive damages.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm
You should not have to concern yourself with the legal process or attorney fees during this already trying time. An Austin sexual abuse lawyer will work hard to secure a settlement for you, and if your case does not resolve in your favor, you will not pay attorney fees. To learn more about how Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can serve you, contact our team at (800) 842-6336.