SEXUAL ABUSE OF THE ELDERLY –
HELP PUT AN END TO IT
Sexual abuse of the elderly in nursing homes or assisted living facilities is not unheard of. The abuse can be at the hands of other residence or the staff. Sexual abuse of the elderly is defined as non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person. Sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent is also considered sexual abuse. It includes, but is not limited to—unwanted touching and all types of sexual assault or battery (rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, and sexually explicit photographing). Sexual abuse is not often reported as a type of elder abuse.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF THE ELDERLY INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
- bruises around the breast or genital area;
- unexplained venereal disease or genital infections;
- unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding ;
- torn, stained, or bloody underclothing’; and
- an elder’s report of being sexually assaulted or raped.
POSSIBLE WARNING SIGNS FROM THE ELDERLY WHO HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED
- May report sexual assault
- May withdraw from family and friends
- May flinch at movements
- May be frightened by opposite gender
WHO DOES IT?
- Others in household
- Paid staff
- Contract workers
- Other disabled adults
- 90% KNOWN perpetrator
- Most occur in home
WHO REPORTS SEXUAL ABUSE OF THE ELDERLY?
- Healthcare provider 23%
- Family 16%
- Other service provider 15%
- Friend/neighbor 8%
- Geriatric worker 6%
- Anonymous 5%
- Victim 5%
WHAT TO DO
There are agencies that are involved in identifying and preventing elder sexual abuse. If you suspect that an older person is being sexually abused, contact Adult Protective Services, located in the local Department of Human Services.
If the abuse is occurring in a nursing home or assisted living facility, call the Long Term Care Ombudsman. If the older person is in danger and not sure who to call, call your police, or sheriff’s office, or 911, if it is available in your area. Failing to report abuse may result in being fined.
For more information on Sexual Abuse of the Elderly contact organizations that provide protective services for older people, such as your area’s Agency on Aging, or your state’s Office on Aging or Adult Protective Services agency.
Phone numbers of the Adult Protective Services and the area Long Term Care Ombudsman are listed in the “yellow pages” of the telephone directory under the classification of “Senior Citizens” Services or Department of Human Services.