South Carolina Injury Attorneys
Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

The National Council on Aging estimates that at least 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced elder abuse – and many public health experts believe that the true numbers may be much higher. While relatively few of these cases involve sexual abuse or rape compared to other forms of exploitation, there are still far too many instances of these unspeakably violent crimes. And according to a CNN investigation into nursing home sexual abuse, over 226 nursing homes failed to protect victims between 2010 and 2015.

The elderly often struggle with debilitating medical conditions related to aging, and may become entirely dependent on nursing home staff for their daily bathing, feeding, and hygiene routines. When caretakers violate this relationship and commit sexual abuse, they don’t only risk criminal charges and prosecution: They could be liable to compensate the victim and their family in a civil claim, too.

Of course, even the most vigilant and alert family members may not know that their loved one is experiencing sexual abuse. In some cases, the victim may be reluctant or afraid to come forward – or feel deep shame about the pain and humiliation that they have endured. At Christian & Christian, we can take on these cases with the gravity that they deserve, and offer compassionate counsel during this difficult time. We can help you investigate the situation at the nursing home and take swift legal action to hold staff accountable for failing to protect your loved one.

How to Identify the Signs of Elder Sex Abuse

From rape to non-consensual fondling, there are many different forms of sexual abuse, and some of these can be incredibly hard to track. Behind the closed doors of a nursing home, malicious aides may commit heinous acts against the elderly, especially when there is limited supervision or an understaffing problem.

The most common forms of sexual abuse in nursing homes include:

  • Photographing residents naked or in a sexual manner without consent
  • Sexual assault and battery
  • Coerced or forced nudity and humiliation
  • Sexually-motivated fondling or touching, particularly during bathing routines
  • Rape & molestation

Unfortunately, many nursing homes do not take action even after receiving an undeniable report of sexual abuse – and some may even attempt to cover up the despicable acts of their staff members to save the reputation of their facility. To compound the problem, elderly victims of abuse are often chosen as targets specifically because they have dementia, which is marked by severe memory loss and hallucinations. That, combined with ageism, means that victims who come forward are not always believed or taken seriously by staff.

Here are some of the main signs that sexual abuse has occurred:

  • Emotional and mood changes: Victims of sexual assault and abuse are far more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder than almost any other group. If your loved one has withdrawn socially, experienced new panic attacks, or started to avoid certain staff members, pay attention to those emotional changes.
  • Bodily injuries: The elderly are more vulnerable to infections and injuries than people in other age groups, which means that sexual abuse will frequently leave a trace. From bruising on the lower body to increased difficulty with walking, rape and other forms of molestation frequently leave lingering signs of physical abuse on an elderly body.
  • Unexplained STDs and infections: The elderly can consent to sexual activity even in a nursing home, and it is possible for the elderly to get sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). But if there is no explanation for your loved one’s STD diagnosis, the most likely explanation is that sexual abuse has taken place.
  • Physical evidence: In nursing homes that are dirty or poorly maintained, sexual abusers may be more careless with physical evidence, leaving torn or stained clothing behind after an assault or abusive episode. This is because they believe no one will notice, or that authorities will assume that the elderly person caused the disturbance on their own. If you see any signs of torn clothing, moved furniture, or broken objects in your loved one’s room, be sure to document it and ask them what happened.

Dedicated to Defending the Elderly

Whether you have confirmed that your loved one has experienced sexual abuse or simply suspect that they are experiencing wrongful treatment, you should report it as soon as possible and hire a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer. Proving these cases can require substantial experience, and you may face opposition from the negligent nursing home facility that let it happen.

Here at Christian & Christian, we’ll apply over 100 years of experience to fight relentlessly for your loved one. Although nothing can truly make up for this kind of violation, it’s our goal to help you seek justice and ensure that no one has to experience what your loved one faced.

Call (864) 408-8890 today for a free consultation.


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