Unfortunately, sexual abuse in nursing homes does occur far more often than most people realize. Sexual abuse of nursing home residents is one of the most underreported forms of abuse. These situations are difficult to discuss, and the abuser may know how to hide signs of sexual abuse of the elderly.
One study from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging says elder sexual assault in nursing homes is the most common form of sexual abuse among senior residents. It says other residents and staff in the nursing home are the vast majority of the perpetrators in this type of crime.
Reporting an Incident
If you suspect or have witnessed sexual abuse involving a resident in a nursing home, you have an obligation to report it to all appropriate authorities, including law enforcement.
Sexual abuse is a serious crime that can happen to victims of any age. Perpetrators in this type of abuse are likely to have more than one victim. Reporting any suspicion of sexual abuse of an elderly person is the best way to put an end to this crime.
Even if you are not completely sure sexual abuse has occurred you should still report it.
Understanding Sexual Abuse
The law defines sexual abuse as non-consensual sexual contact by one person against another person. Specific examples of sexual abuse in a nursing home can include:
- Unwanted touching in an intimate manner.
- Unwanted touching of breasts or genital areas.
- Any type of sexual penetration.
- Forcing a person to undress for non-medical reasons.
- Forcing someone to watch pornography.
- Forcing someone to watch the perpetrator masturbate.
- Recording video or photos of someone fully or partially nude without their consent.
If your loved one experienced sexual abuse in a nursing home, have them report the incident to the authorities to protect themselves and others.
Victims of Elderly Sexual Abuse
In the case of sexual abuse of an elder, the victim sometimes may not have the mental capacity to fully understand what is happening to them.
An illness like dementia can create a situation of opportunity for a sexual predator. By sexually abusing someone with dementia in a nursing home, the predator knows the victim likely cannot stand up to the abuse or report it later.
Residents or staff members who know about another resident’s level of dementia may take advantage of the situation. Even though it is less common, a stranger or any visitor to the nursing home also could perform a sex abuse crime.
Signs of Elderly Sexual Abuse
When a predator is abusing a nursing home resident sexually, there may not always be clear signs of the abuse. Some signs are physical, while others may show up through emotional distress.
Physical Signs of Sexual Abuse
When someone is suffering from sexual abuse, you may notice certain markings on his or her body. For an elderly nursing home resident, those markings are clearer because of the way their bodies react to trauma:
- Bruising on the breasts.
- Bruising around the genitals.
- Infections of the genitals.
- The appearance of a sexually transmitted disease.
- Bleeding from the anus or vagina.
- Unexplained torn clothing.
- Unexplained stains or blood on clothing or bed linens.
If a nursing home resident tells you that someone sexually abused him or her, report it to the proper authorities. Authorities can investigate the report and decide if further action should be taken.
Emotional Signs of Sexual Abuse
A sexual abuse victim’s behavior or emotional well-being may undergo a significant change from what it was before the abuse. The effects of sexual violence may include:
- Withdrawal from activities with others.
- Panic attacks.
- Attempts at suicide.
- Fear of being left alone.
- Fear of being taken to the place where the sexual abuse is occurring.
Standing Up for the Victim’s Rights
State and federal laws provide for crime victim compensation, including for victims of sexual abuse, regardless of the age of the victim. Some types of compensation include:
- Reimbursement for lost wages.
- Paying medical costs for physical trauma.
- Paying costs for mental health counseling.
Depending on the laws in your state, the victim may have additional compensation options. To receive the benefit that you deserve, you may want to consider hiring an attorney who deals with nursing home abuse and can understand how common sexual abuse is in nursing homes.
The Pintas & Mullins Law Firm knows how to investigate the facts in cases like this. We will stand up for the rights of the victim. Call us today at (800) 842-6336. We do not shy away from tough cases, and we work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not pay unless we win.