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Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

by | Last updated May 9, 2023

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Elderly citizens often require nursing home care. For this reason, many people leave their elders at nursing homes to be looked after by professionals who care for them and treat them with respect, dignity, and kindness. While many facilities that provide nursing care offer all these things, there are many cases in which residents of the nursing home aren’t provided proper medical care and are even sexually abused.

Why Sexual Abuse Occurs in a Nursing Home?

When a person is sexually abused at a nursing facility, it is not always easily apparent to the family members, loved ones and friends. However, such cases can become quite extreme resulting in physical, emotional and mental trauma.

Although poor care and neglect can create significant problems for nursing home residents, sexual assault is the worst possible crime that may occur in a facility like this. The main problem with sexual assault in nursing homes is that it can take on different facets with each one resulting in the victim to suffer without anyone else knowing.

Many times, residents of the nursing home are sexually abused because their condition makes it hard for them to properly communicate with other people and express what is going on. For example, dementia victims find it extremely difficult to remember events and they can’t properly communicate to tell what is happening to them when their loved ones aren’t there.

Additionally, the abuser often intimidates the resident who is victim to their abuse. Some are told that they won’t be given any medication, food or other necessary items if they tell anyone about the sexual abuse.

Furthermore, nursing home residents with a criminal history and psychiatric disorder may be the ones who sexually assault other residents. The staff at the nursing home is responsible for ensuring that people with criminal records and psychiatric issues are monitored constantly so that everyone else can live in peace.

In nursing facilities, strangers may also be involved in sexual abuse. This typically happens when adequate supervision and security isn’t provided by nursing homes. Unfortunately, there are many nursing homes where sign-in for visiting isn’t mandatory and there isn’t any rigorous security system in place. Furthermore, a care provider may simply walk out and forget to close the door of the facility. This too can provide an opportunity to an offender to enter the nursing home and victimize the residents. If such a situation occurs, the nursing facility is liable for negligence.

In some cases, the family members of elderly citizens are involved in sexual abuse. This kind of abuse usually happens when a partner of the spouse staying in a nursing facility visits them. If the resident of the nursing facility isn’t medically or physically capable of making a cohesive decision about sexual relations, then this becomes a sexual abuse. It is the responsibility of the nursing facility to monitor all such activities to make sure that all residents stay safe.

Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Types of Sexual Abuse at Nursing Homes

Some types of sexual abuse at nursing homes include:

  • Rape
  • Forced nudity
  • Sexual assault
  • Unwanted touching
  • Sexual photography
  • Showing pornography to residents of nursing homes without their approval and consent

Signs of Sexual Abuse

If the resident of a nursing facility is being sexually abused, there will likely be some physical evidence of the abuse. It’s vital that caregivers and family members who believe that their loved one is being sexually abused pay attention to evidence. It is extremely difficult to punish a sexual abuser if there’s a lack of physical evidence.

Some psychological signs also indicate sexual abuse. If the resident of a nursing facility exhibits any of the signs discussed below, it is essential to get them out of the nursing facility and punish the person(s) responsible.

  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases and infections
  • Unexplained bleeding from the vagina
  • Bruises in breasts, thighs and genital areas
  • Clothing that’s been stained, torn or is covered in red
  • Withdrawal or depression
  • Increased difficulty sitting or walking
  • Abrupt changes in mood and agitation
  • Excessive fear and anxiety around caregiver

Things Need to Change

Sexual abuse at a nursing home is an issue that’s often left out of the discussion on sexual assault, but it’s widespread. About 70% of reported sexual abuse with elderly citizens takes place in nursing facilities. This isn’t acceptable. More awareness must be brought to the issue of sexual abuse and more people should talk about it. Though a difficult subject matter, it is imperative for families to report sexual abuse at nursing homes to the concerned authorities. Even if the nursing facility has a policy for handling such situations, family members should involve police in the case to ensure that the accusations are not taken lightly. Sexual abusers should be punished so that they can’t victimize anyone else in the future.

People should help those involved in taking care of their loved ones in understanding signs of elderly sexual abuse. They can do this by engaging in conversation about sexual abuse with the staff at nursing homes. Consequences of sexual abuse should also be highlighted in the discussion.

If you think that your family friend, relative, parent or grandparent was sexually abused at a nursing facility, speak out. Report the incident to the police and contact a lawyer.

No one has to tolerate sexual abuse. Your family members or loved may not be capable of defending themselves, but you should raise the issue for them and fight for what’s right.

Contact the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Shiner Law Group today by calling (561) 777-7700. Learn about all the rights of residents of nursing homes and see how we can be of assistance in the event of sexual abuse.