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The Reality of Elder Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Posted On October 25, 2016

Some of the most vulnerable members of society are being sexually abused in nursing homes throughout the country, and Illinois is not immune to these immoral crimes. Between 2007 and 2010 alone, an alarming 86 incidents involving some type of sexual abuse in nursing homes were reported in Chicago. Even more disturbing, however, is that approximately 70 percent of victims never report crimes like these to authorities.

Why Elder Sexual Abuse Goes Unreported

In many cases, sexual abuse that occurs in nursing homes is not reported because the victim is humiliated, afraid of retaliation, or unable to communicate effectively. In other situations, nursing homes will attempt to cover up these heinous crimes by claiming to handle them internally. Even when a nursing home has an internal policy for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse, it is essential that perpetrators are held legally responsible for their actions. Additionally, survivors of sexual abuse often suffer physical injuries and emotional scarring. A nursing home abuse lawyer in Chicago can often help these victims obtain compensation for pain and suffering by filing a suit against the offender, and in some cases even the nursing home itself.

Who is At Risk for Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes?

One of the reasons that nursing home residents are often targets of sexual abuse is that the perpetrator feels that he or she will be able to commit the offense without being caught or punished. For this reason, individuals who are at the highest risk for assault are the ones who are already more vulnerable.

  • People who suffer from dementia, confusion or other memory problems are often targeted because the offender thinks nobody will believe the victim’s complaints.
  • Women are six times more likely to be sexually abused in nursing homes than men.
  • Residents who are socially isolated are at a greater risk for sexual abuse.

Recognizing the Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse

One of the first steps family members and loved ones can take to ensure that nursing home residents are protected from sexual abuse is to recognize the signs of a possible assault. If a loved one is exhibiting any of the following, authorities should be notified as soon as possible.

  • Unexplained sexually transmitted disease (STD), infection or bleeding
  • Bruising or abraisions in the genital area, thighs or breasts
  • Psychological symptoms like depression, fear, withdrawal or anxiety
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