Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Senior man in a wheelchair looking out of a window in a hospital corridor.

Vulnerable nursing home residents are being sexually assaulted and abused throughout Ohio. The problem is more widespread than many people realize, and is also the most well-hidden, least-acknowledged, and least reported form of elder abuse.  

According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center:

• Elderly women are more 6 times likely than men to be victims of nursing home sexual abuse. 

• More than 80% of elder sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes.

• Eighty percent of the perpetrators of sexual abuse in nursing homes are caregivers.   

• Seventy-six percent of elder sexual abuse incidents are witnessed by someone else. 

• But only 30% of elder sexual abuse cases are reported to authorities. 

What Is Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes?

Sexual abuse in nursing homes occurs when caregivers and other people who are entrusted with caring for these vulnerable members of the popluation violate that trust and take advantage of nursing home residents for their own sexual gratification. 

Elderly sexual abuse includes any unwanted sexual action against an elder, and usually involves people who are over 60 years of age. 

Sexual abuse in nursing homes includes any contact of a sexual nature with an elder who cannot communicate their disapproval of the behavior due to mental illness or dementia. 

Abusers target elderly nursing home residents because they think they are easy prey. Many believe they will not be punished because nursing home residents are often isolated from family and are easily confused. 

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Sexual abuse of the elderly in nursing homes is difficult to discuss, but it is one of several forms of abuse perpetrated against the elderly. It may be accompanied by other forms of abuse, such as physical and emotional abuse. 

Signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes include:

  • Pelvic injuries
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Development of a sexual transmitted disease
  • Torn, bloody, or stained underwear
  • Genital bruising or bruises on the inner thigh
  • Anal or genital bleeding
  • Pain or irritation in the anus or genitals
  • Panic attacks
  • Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Unexplained agitation
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Inappropriate, unusual, or aggressive sexual activities
  • Attempted suicide
  • Unusual or inappropriate behaviors that appear to stem from a sexual relationship with a perpetrator of sexual abuse

Holding Abusers Accountable for Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are often slow to investigate and report allegations of sexual abuse in nursing homes because the victims may not believed, or because nursing home administrators want to hide the allegations. 

Police often dismiss claims of nursing home sexual abuse because they think the victims suffer from failing memories or unclear allegations. And state regulators may fail to intervene because the bar for substantiating claims of elder abuse are so high. 

These systemic failures make it difficult for victims of sexual abuse in nursing homes to get the justice they deserve.   

One of the most complicating factors in an elderly sexual abuse case is that many victims of elder sexual abuse cannot communicate well enough to describe what happened to them. 

Perpetrators of elder sexual abuse are not limited to nursing home employees, and may include friends, live-in nursing aides, nursing home assistants, family members, and other care providers who are left alone to care for the elderly.  

What To Do if You Believe a Family Members Has Been a Victim of Sexual Abuse in a Nursing Home

It is difficult to entrust the care of an aging family member to the staff of a nursing home. 

Families often go through thorough reviews, meetings with the nursing home director and other staff, and take precautions to ensure that their loved one receives excellent care. 

When that trust is violated and your loved one was the victim of sexual abuse in a nursing home, you need a lawyer you can trust, who will fight for justice for your family. 

Robenalt Law Holds Nursing Homes Accountable

If you suspect someone you care about was the victim of sexual abuse in nursing homes, contact an experienced Ohio nursing home negligence attorney at Robenalt Law today to schedule a free initial consultiation to review your case. Our team of experienced trial lawyers has the resources, experience, and expertise to hold nursing homes accountable  when they violated your trust and abused someone in their care. 

Contact Robenalt Law today by calling 216-233-7573, email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com, or complete our online form. . 

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing nursing homes at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent health care providers.

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