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Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

  • February 5, 2019
  • KBA Attorneys
  • No Comments

It can be hard to imagine that atrocities like sexual abuse happen in nursing homes, but unfortunately, it does happen. While it’s important that your loved one has someone to keep an eye on their health around the clock, it’s also important that you keep an eye out for the signs of possible sexual abuse.

Abuse can come from anyone who comes into contact with the resident. This includes staff, friends, strangers, visitors, other residents or family members. One of the more common forms of sexual abuse may come from other residents who have dementia, which sometimes leads to resident-to-resident sexual aggression. The staff should be aware and proactive in preventing these instances, but it is also vital for you to be alert to different sources of sexual abuse.

Many risk factors can potentially lead to sexual abuse in nursing homes. Some things to keep an eye out for are:

  • Individuals with dementia or memory problems
  • High-level needs and a high degree of dependence
  • Consistent and prolonged social isolation
  • Communication troubles
  • High levels of stress in the nursing facility, including understaffing, inadequate background checks or training
  • Not receiving regular visitors or checks from individuals living outside the nursing home

Types Of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can happen in different forms, but while some signs may be overtly visible, sometimes abusers will go to great lengths to cover up their sexual abuse. Covert sexual abuse may not be as blatant, and many abusers will try to explain the signs as results of normal care. Residents of a nursing facility have rights and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If you suspect sexual abuse, don’t allow the signs to be covered up.

If you suspect your loved one has been sexually abused, it may be a good idea to ask if:

  • They received an unwanted touch of an intimate nature, especially to private areas
  • There is unnecessary or excessive touch used during regular bathing or cleaning
  • They are forced to be nude or refused the ability to cover self or privacy while changing
  • They are forced to observe sexual acts, pornographic images, or listen to sexually graphic conversations
  • They are spoken to with a sexual undertone or sexually graphic language
  • Someone is taking videos or photographs of a sexually explicit nature, including videos of bathing or routine care and distribution of these images or videos
  • There is any form of sexual assault or molestation

If your loved one is not able to communicate to you what is happening in their particular situation, you can always look out for potential warning signs that can indicate the type of sexual assault and frequency with which it is occurring. Some signs of sexual abuse in the elderly
could be:

  • Unexplained STDs or infection
  • Unexplained pelvic or hip injury
  • Bruising around the thigh, genital area or breasts
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal pain, irritation or bleeding
  • Blood, tears or stains on gowns or undergarments
  • Increased difficulty walking or sitting upright
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress such as hyper-alertness, emotional numbness, difficulty sleeping or irritability
  • Panic attacks or anxiety
  • Suicide attempts
  • Withdrawing from family or social interactions
  • Acting out inappropriate sexual behaviors or unusual sexual activities

What To Do If Your Loved One Is Being Sexually Abused

Protect your loved one by first ensuring they are safe, and make sure they receive adequate care to recover from their ordeal. Report the abuse to nursing home administrators, call 9-1-1 and file a complaint immediately to make sure they are out of danger. Write down the specific details of the abuse if you can come across them and document any evidence that you may have found, as it can aid in the investigation. Reporting the abuse to Adult Protective Services is always advised as well.

Seeking services from a reputable law firm is also advised, as these cases require extensive knowledge and personal care. Contact KBA Attorneys to learn about filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit and to ensure that your loved one sees justice.

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