Nursing homes should be safe havens for elderly loved ones. Unfortunately, many types of abuse, including sexual assault, can occur at these facilities. A 2019 study found that 1.9% of nursing home residents self-report sexual abuse. However, this low number may be because residents with disabilities or cognitive impairment are often victims and are unable to report the abuse.
You can help protect your elderly loved one’s well-being by familiarizing yourself with common forms of sexual abuse and symptoms in elderly patients. If you suspect nursing home abuse has occurred, the compassionate Indiana sexual abuse lawyers at Wagner Reese can help you investigate and hold the perpetrators responsible in a civil claim.
Common Forms of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse in nursing homes can manifest in different ways. Some of the most common forms include:
- Unwanted touching or groping refers to non-consensual physical contact, such as a staff member touching a resident inappropriately.
- Non-consensual sexual contact includes any sexual contact that occurs without the explicit consent of the resident. For example, a staff member engaging in sexual activity with a resident who cannot consent due to cognitive impairment.
- Forced nudity or exposure involves forcing a resident to remove their clothing or exposing them to others without their consent.
- Inappropriate sexual comments or harassment of a sexual nature that is unwanted, such as sexually explicit jokes or comments or repeated requests for sexual favors.
- Showing or forcing a resident to view pornographic material against their will. For instance, a staff member shows a resident pornographic videos or images without consent.
- Coercing a resident into sexual activity in which a staff member uses their power or authority to manipulate a resident into engaging in sexual activity. This can also include taking advantage of a resident’s cognitive impairments to engage in sexual activity without their consent.
Signs Your Loved One is a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse
As a loved one of someone living in a nursing home, it’s important to be aware of the signs that they may be experiencing sexual abuse. Residents with physical or mental disabilities are more vulnerable due to their dependence on staff, impaired communication skills, and limited ability to understand or remember sexual abuse that has occurred.
If you notice the following signs in your elderly relative, speak with the Indiana nursing home abuse lawyers at Wagner Reese to learn your legal options.
- Unexplained bruises, abrasions, or injuries in areas of the body that are typically private. For example, bruises on their inner thighs or genitals.
- Torn or stained clothing or bedding that indicates a physical struggle. For example, your loved one’s undergarments are ripped, indicating possible sexual abuse.
- Increased fear, anxiety, or withdrawal that suggests your loved one is scared or anxious. For example, they may become withdrawn and avoid previously enjoyable social activities.
- Sudden changes in mood or behavior that are uncharacteristic of your loved one. For example, they may become irritable or easily agitated.
- Reluctance to be alone with specific individuals when certain people are mentioned. For instance, your loved one may become visibly upset when a particular staff member is around or refuse to discuss their experiences in the nursing home.
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suggest your loved one may be experiencing PTSD due to abuse. They may have nightmares or flashbacks of the abuse or experience severe anxiety in situations that remind them of the incident.
Your attorney can hold those responsible for the abuse accountable for their actions. This can include nursing home administrators, staff, medical providers, or other residents at the facility.
For example, if the nursing home administrators did not adequately screen an employee, it may be responsible for your loved one’s damages. If another resident sexually assaulted or abused your loved one, you may also be able to hold the nursing home liable for your loved one’s injuries, including emotional harm.
Hire an Elder Abuse Attorney
If you believe your loved one has been a victim in a nursing home, consult with an experienced Indiana sexual abuse lawyer. At Wagner Reese, our knowledgeable and compassionate team is dedicated to helping Indiana families hold abusers accountable.
Contact us today for a free consultation and let our legal team help you protect your loved one and seek the restitution they deserve.