Always remain watchful over your loved ones in nursing homes.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes is far more common than anyone would care to imagine. Predators sometimes find the low barriers to enter the workforce in a nursing home the perfect opportunity to have access to vulnerable adults. These adults may or may not be capable of reporting the reprehensible behavior.
Sexual abuse can take many forms. Seek help if your loved one in a nursing home reports any of the following signs of abuse:
Unwanted sexual touching of any kind, especially to the genital area or breasts
Unwanted penetrative sex of any kind
Forced or coerced nudity
Forced or coerced nude or explicit photographs
Coerced exposure to any sexually explicit material
What are Signs of Sexual Abuse?
If a nursing home resident is suffering sexual abuse, he or she may exhibit physical and emotional signs. The signs of abuse may include:
Bruises around the thighs and genitals, or on the chest
Genital infections or venereal disease
Sudden difficulty sitting or walking
Torn, stained, or bloodied undergarments
Withdrawal from social interactions
Sudden and unexplained changes in behavior
Anxiety or fear
The Most Vulnerable Nursing Home Residents
Women and residents with dementia are far more likely to be victims of sexual abuse. For women, it is mostly a question of proportions. Two-thirds of the nursing home population in America is comprised of women.
Dementia patients are also susceptible to sexual abuse because of their cognitive state. Dementia patients may not fully understand what is happening to them. They also often have diminished communication skills, which makes reporting difficult.
That said, all nursing home residents are vulnerable. Sexual abuse in nursing homes often goes unreported because the victims are deeply ashamed of what they have experienced. There are also many cases where fear of retaliation keeps victims silent.
Who are the Predators in Nursing Homes?
Predators in nursing homes can be almost anyone. Consequently, they are often the very people in charge of caring for residents. Examples of predators include:
As happened in the North Seattle assisted living facility, the rapist may be an employee of the nursing home.
Sometimes, the attacker is a complete stranger- someone who got in because of lax security protections, or a even a visitor to the facility.
Residents often know their abuser. Family, friends, and even other residents have sometimes been charged with sexual assault.
Resident-to-resident sexual aggression caused by dementia is the most common form of assault nursing home residents suffer.
As an important aside, residents have the right to engage in consensual sexual activity, but both residents must have the capacity to consent. Some residents with cognitive decline or dementia are not capable of consenting, in which case any sexual contact is assault.