Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Illinois and national laws state that older persons living in nursing homes have the right to live in dignity and safety and to receive the highest quality of care and to be free from neglect or abuse. Unfortunately, approximately one in four nursing home facilities in Illinois fail to meet these standards each year. While the state has taken action to prevent further abuse and neglect from happening, that action has not yet been sufficient.
Facts About Abuse in Illinois Nursing Homes
Seven percent of abuse complaints in nursing homes are for sexual abuse, according to a National Center on Elder Abuse study. According to the Illinois Department on Aging, the most likely victim is a female aged 79. The perpetrators are often those closest to the victim, including nursing home staff, other residents, and even visitors.
Elder Sexual Abuse: Definition and Examples
Sexual abuse or criminal sexual conduct is any form of unwanted sexual contact or other unwanted sexual act such as:
- Sexual assault
- Forced nudity
- Forced viewing of pornography
- Forced sexual contact with another resident
In the case of elder sexual abuse, you must be aware of whether your loved one has the mental or physical capacity to give consent. Often, perpetrators target vulnerable elders — such as those with Alzheimer’s or dementia — due to their inability to say no or to fully understand what is happening to them.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
More than 70 percent of elder abuse victims do not report the abuse they suffer. This lack of reporting can be due to any number of factors, including fear of reprisal or further abuse. Knowing that elderly individuals are not likely to come forward on their own is important, as it allows you to stay watchful for physical or emotional signs of sexual abuse. Common signs include:
- Recent presence of a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Vaginal or rectal bleeding
- Bloody or torn undergarments
- Pain or discomfort when sitting
- Bruising on the torso, inner thigh or genital area
- Aggressive sexual behavior
- Extreme agitation around potential abusers
If you notice any of these signs, speak to your loved one immediately. Ask direct questions and make it clear that your loved one will not lose your support based upon his or her answers.
If your loved one cannot communicate with you for any reason, request immediately medical attention to determine if abuse occurred. Then reach out to an experienced abuse lawyer for help understanding your options.
Contact Our Law Firm for Help Holding Abusers Accountable
An investigative report by the Chicago Tribune found that the police made only one arrest out of 86 reports of sexual assault in Chicago-area nursing homes between July 2007 and January 2010. This number is unacceptable. We can and must do better than this to protect our loved ones. Contact one of our nursing home abuse attorneys at The Rooth Law Firm today to learn how we can help you seek justice.