As difficult as it is to imagine, sexual assault in nursing homes is a reality that many of us are forced to face. Elder sexual abuse is classified as the “unwanted sexual conduct against a person over the age of 60.” This especially includes adults who are unable to resist or fight back, or are unable to express consent or disapproval.
Older family members or friends are often chosen as victims because of challenges with memory loss, confusion, and difficulty communicating. The vast majority of sexual assaults on older adults occurs in nursing home, an estimated 80%, with the perpetrator being their caregiver 81% of the time.
Recognizing the signs of elder sexual abuse in someone you care about is extremely important, especially if they have difficulty communicating. Though it may be a difficult and sensitive subject, being aware is vital:
- New emergence of STIs (sexually transmitted infections)
- New difficulty sitting or walking
- Bruises on inner thighs or genitals
- Anal or genital pain, bleeding, or irritation
- Pelvic injury
- Bloody, torn, or stained undergarments
- Extreme agitation
- Withdrawal from social interaction
- Panic attacks or emerging PTSD symptoms
- Unusual sexual behavior
- Unusual behavior between victim and suspected abuser
- Suicide attempts
Daunting Reality of Elder Sexual Assault
It is estimated that 1 in 10 American adults over the age of 60 are abused physically, emotionally, or sexually, resulting in nearly 5 million abused each year. 1 in 14 of these cases goes unreported. With around 80% of all sexual assault cases occurring in nursing homes or live-in care facilities, it would seem that the abuser profile would skew towards orderlies and hired caregivers; however, an overwhelming 67% of abusers are family members. And in over 75% of these cases there is at least one witness to the crime.
Even if the attack is reported, the older the victim is, the less likely the offender is to be convicted of assault. As in any sexual assault case, an elderly victim is less likely to be believed if there are no signs of physical trauma; and victims living in nursing homes are least likely of all to get a conviction.
Though nursing homes may be a great option for you or your loved one, it is important to be aware of the risks and pitfalls associated with entrusting anyone with such a close level of care. Moraitakis & Kushel, LLP recognize these grim statistics, and is here to help if you believe your loved one is being mistreated, or sexually abused.
If you or a loved one has suffered sexual assault in a nursing home setting, do not hesitate to call Moraitakis & Kushel, LLP at 404-445-1411, or fill out the online contact form now. Your first consultation is free.