Among the various types of abuse that occur in nursing homes, the most difficult to identify is sexual abuse. Although cases of rape and sexual abuse in nursing homes are rarer than cases of physical abuse, there is no denying the fact that sexual abuse leaves behind long-term psychological and emotional scars that can be even more difficult to heal from than physical injuries.
The elderly are easy victims of sexual abuse, because they often feel ashamed of the abuse and unable to confide in their family about what has transpired. Furthermore, they may feel intimidated or threatened by the perpetrator. All of these things make it difficult for family members to identify abuse.
To determine whether your loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse, look for signs of changed sexual behavior in your loved one. Don’t ignore any signs of sexual promiscuity, suggestive behaviors, or odd behavior.
There may also be physical signs of sexual abuse. For instance, bleeding in the genital area or in the anal region could be an indication of sexual abuse. If you see signs of bruising around the thighs and breasts, bring this to the attention of the nursing home authorities.
Note if your loved one is finding it difficult to walk properly, or sit comfortably.
If there has been any kind of sexual penetration, your loved one may be also at risk of sexual transmitted diseases (STD).
If you have seen signs of sexual abuse, or if your loved one has confided in you about inappropriate behavior by staff members, residents or others at the facility do not brush aside these concerns. Take these concerns seriously, and do not express any signs of horror or shock. Any negative emotions expressed by you could deter your loved one from confiding in you further.
If you have reason to believe that your loved one was abused in a nursing home, speak to the nursing home management or security. If you don’t feel that you can trust them, talk to the local authorities or to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. If necessary, move him or her to another facility. Sexual abuse of the elderly is an uncomfortable topic, but it one that needs to be addressed so that our seniors can live in safety and with dignity.