Unfortunately, the elderly and infirm can't always rely on protective family members to look after them 24 hours a day. While licensed institutions are under a legal obligation to protect those under their care, sadly we continue to see cases of sexual abuse involving nursing home and long term care residents. Nursing home residents who are victims of sexual abuse suffer doubly. They not only experience the trauma from the sheer violence of such an event, but also the agonizing isolation that is often caused by the ensuing fear.
A central reality of all sexual abuse cases is that they typically involve the violation of a weaker person by an overpowering brutality. Elders depend on their caretakers to be just that--Caretakers. When any one of these entrusted personnel or fellow residents assaults a resident, it often goes unreported. Victims often suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, and they may not have the ability to communicate about the abuse to visiting family, friends or even staff members. Even without those limitations, some can feel so ashamed that they hide what's happened to them. In those cases, this type of abuse is often ongoing, perpetrated by one of the staff or other residents. Fear of reprisal can paralyze an abused elderly person, as they realize that they are at the mercy of the institution and its staff.
Nursing home sexual abuse involves many types of inappropriate sexual activity, often with an adult who is unable to understand or consent to such an activity. It may be a one-time event; it may be an ongoing situation involving one or many staff members, or even other residents. Regardless of the situation, we believe that any facility that houses these abusive individuals should be held financially responsible for its actions and/or its failure to act.
- Some of the warning signs of this type of abuse are:
- Sudden unexplained change in mood or behavior;
- Unexplained skin tears;
- Unexplained bruising;
- Acting scared around certain staff or other residents;
- Withdrawing from social activities; and
- Unusual anxiety.
It is critical that families ensure that the nursing home has safeguards in place to protect their loved ones before entering into any contracts with that facility. If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms, please call us for a free consultation. One of our attorneys will be happy to speak with you.