Nursing home sexual abuse or sexual assault is considered the improper touching or use of coercion to force the nursing home resident to perform sexual acts. Sexual abuse and rape trauma may provoke irritation, tears of skin, redness, abnormal discharge, bruising, and swelling around the genitalia.
Sexual abuse may be particularly difficult to detect for a number of reasons. Both the victim and the abuser tend to deny that any elder abuse has occurred and it may be even more likely that elder sexual abuse will be denied due to feelings of shame and embarrassment. Sexual involvement outside of marriage was violative of the social mores existing at the time that many currently elderly individuals were growing up. Many may be reluctant to report having had intercourse, even though it was unwanted and this will hamper any reporting of elder sexual assault.
Types of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
- Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault by a nursing home staff member
- Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault by any other nursing home residents
- Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault by a family member
Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse and Elder Sexual Assault
- Denial and disbelief
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Intrusive recurrent recollections about the assault
- Difficulty making decisions to seek medical assistance
- Intense fear reaction to assailant
- Guilt, self-blame, low self-esteem
- Demonstrating little or no emotion
- Expressions of hopelessness or helplessness
A nursing home sexual assault victim may be in early stages of dementia which only allows them to describe some parts of the assault. This might lead their stories of nursing home sexual assault to be dismissed by other people and eventually goes unreported.
Most states have laws that any person having reason to believe that an incapacitated adult has been subjected to nursing home sexual abuse shall report the incident to the State Department of Health and Human Services. These reporting obligations are taken very seriously and people who do not report may be found guilty of a criminal charge. In addition to traditional criminal prosecution nursing home sexual abuse, a number of states have special laws that make assault or battery on an older adult person or nursing home resident an aggravated offense with stricter penalties.