Becoming a victim of sexual assault at any age can change your life. Those who commit this disgusting, horrifying act deserve to be held both civilly and criminally responsible for their actions. At Malman Law, we help victims of sexual abuse in nursing homes seek the help they need and fight for the financial compensation they deserve.
Scholars call sexual abuse “the most hidden form of elder abuse” in nursing homes. For a variety of reasons, nursing home residents are not only more prone to abuse but also less likely to report becoming a victim. This is a dangerous combination that makes it all the more important for family members who suspect sexual abuse – as well as residents who are willing to speak up – to come forward.
The Risk of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Researchers point to three primary “profiles” of nursing home residents who are the most susceptible to abuse. These are:
- Physically disabled nursing home residents
- Cognitively impaired nursing home residents (those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia)
- Physically impaired younger nursing home residents
Part of the problem is with the nature of the nursing home itself. Nursing homes are perceived to be safe places to live that are run by people who care about their residents. While this accurately describes many Illinois nursing homes and their employees, unfortunately, for many residents the reality is much, much different.
Studies, along with our own experience, have both shown that disabled and impaired women and men are equally susceptible to sexual abuse in nursing homes. Likewise, perpetrators of abuse can be either sex. They can also be both staff members and other residents in the home. This makes it all the more important for residents and their family members to understand the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse – and to take action when they believe something may be wrong.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
Statistics on the prevalence of sexual abuse in nursing homes are not readily available, and one reason is that many of the signs and symptoms are similar to those for other forms of nursing home negligence and abuse. This, along with other factors discussed below, causes many instances of sexual abuse to be reported as something else. However, there are several signs and symptoms that are either unique to or specifically associated with sexual abuse, and if you or your loved one experiences any of these conditions, you should seek both medical and legal help right away:
- Acquisition of a sexually-transmitted disease (STD)
- Anxiety and depression
- Bleeding, broken, or bruised inner thighs or genital region
- Compromised immune system
- Worsening of an underlying illness or condition
In addition, the following are strong indicators of possible sexual abuse – particularly in light of many elderly individuals’ hesitance to discuss any abuse or sex-related issues:
- Direct allegations of abuse or harassment
- Refusal to discuss life at the nursing home or a particular staff member (or members)
- Strange or inappropriate comments about sex
Why So Many Instances of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Go Unreported
Along with many residents’ difficulty in distinguishing between sexual and other forms of abuse, there are a number of other reasons why sexual abuse in nursing homes is grossly underreported. Again, if you believe that you or a loved one may be a victim of sexual abuse, we urge you to contact one of our lawyers for help. In most instances, sexual abuse is not a “one-time” event, but rather an ongoing, often systemic, pattern of harmful mistreatment.
The following are some of the most common reasons why nursing home residents fail or refuse to report nursing home abuse. As you can see, these are not justifications for someone to be continually subjected to abuse:
- A lack of understanding of what constitutes sexual abuse
- Confusion of injuries and symptoms from sexual abuse with conditions from other causes
- Social taboos that may make it more difficult for elderly individuals to discuss sex-related issues
- Lack of social support, including isolation from friends and family
- Dysfunctional nursing home environments that lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of lack of self-worth
- Pressure not to tell, and possibly even threats of further abuse
Contact a Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney in Chicago, Illinois Today
For more information or to get immediate help, we encourage you to call us now at (888) 305-5043 for a free consultation. You can also contact us online. Our attorneys are passionate about fighting for nursing home residents in Illinois, and we can help you put an end to the abuse.