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How to Spot Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Sexual abuse in nursing homes is a rarely discussed subject, but it is essential to know how to spot the warning signs if you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home, especially one at high risk of suffering abuse. Elder sexual abuse applies to any unwanted sexual contact with an individual over the age of 60 and often accompanies other types of abuse such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, and financial exploitation.

Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse

Some signs of elder sexual abuse are more difficult to spot than others, and the signs can include physical and behavioral changes in an elderly individual.

– Sudden difficulty sitting or remaining seated

– Pelvic injury

– Sudden diagnosis with a sexually transmitted disease

– Bruises on the inner thighs and genital area

– Bruises on the wrists and arms

– Irritation, pain, or bleeding in the anal or genital region

– Irritability and agitation

– Withdrawal from social events and interactions

– Symptoms of depression and anxiety

– Refusal to eat and poor nutrition

– Inappropriate or unusual sexual behaviors

– Panic attacks and anxiety attacks

– Nightmares

– Suicide attempts

These are just a few potential warning signs. It is also important to know that sexual abuse of any kind often involves a degree of shame; some victims have trouble speaking out about their experiences as sexual abuse victims because they fear others’ judgments. Some elderly individuals who suffer sexual abuse may attempt to hide their predicaments, and some may unfortunately no longer have the awareness level to realize they are suffering abuse.

Highest-Risk Groups

According to a study from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, women are as much as six times more likely to suffer sexual abuse than men. More than 80% of all elder sexual abuse victims live in assisted living or nursing home facilities. The remainder experience sexual abuse while receiving home care. Also, in 80% of cases the abuser is the primary caregiver to the victim.

If you have an elderly loved one who suffers from a degenerative neurological condition like Alzheimer’s disease or any other condition that causes memory issues, confusion, mood swings, or unpredictable behaviors, he or she could also be at higher risk of suffering sexual abuse. The same applies to elders with hearing and vision loss. Predatory sexual abusers may consider these individuals easy targets because they may not remember episodes of abuse or be able to identify their attackers.

Who Is Liable for Elder Sexual Abuse?

In an elder sexual abuse case, liability generally falls directly to the abuser. However, it is possible for another entity to absorb liability as well. Because primary caregivers are the most common abusers, a nursing home or assisted living facility that failed to conduct proper background check procedures on employees could face liability if they employ an individual with a history of sex crimes or registered sex offender status.

In rare cases, multiple parties bear liability for elder sexual abuse, such as in cases involving groups of abusers harming the same victim, cover-ups, and negligent hiring and employee disciplinary practices. An elder abuse attorney can help a client determine the potentially liable parties in an elder sexual abuse case, and such a situation will likely lead to criminal charges as well.

Most states prosecute sexual abuse cases very aggressively, and elders have special status as a protected group under most state’s laws. Sexual abuse against elders is a heinous offense against some of the most vulnerable members of society. If you notice any warning signs of elder sexual abuse, investigate them, and remove your loved one from the dangerous environment as soon as possible and notify the authorities. Next, contact a attorney to help you determine you and your loved one’s options for legal recovery.

When to Call Knapp & Roberts

Our firm has been representing the abused in Arizona for over 30 years. We understand how hard it is to put your loved one in a care facility, let alone a care facility that isn’t adequately providing for them. If you suspect your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, contact one our dedicated Phoenix personal injury attorneys to review your case. We offer free consultations and will be able to provide you the support you and your loved one need in this difficult time. Contact Knapp & Roberts today. (408) 991-7677.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.