Nursing Home Sexual Assault Lawyers
Learning that your loved one has been abused in their nursing home can be very difficult. When you leave your loved one in the care of these facilities, you expect that they will be well treated. Unfortunately, elder abuse in nursing homes is all too common.
While any form of abuse can be upsetting, learning that your loved one has been sexually abused can be even more painful and traumatizing. If you suspect your loved one is the victim of sexual assault in their nursing home, an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help.
At Crosen Law Firm, we understand how difficult it can be to learn your loved one has been mistreated in their nursing home. Our Indiana nursing home abuse lawyers are dedicated to working with victims and their families to ensure they get the help they need and that the right parties are held accountable.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home sexual assault, contact a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer right away at (317) 401-8626.
What is Elderly Sexual Abuse?
In general, sexual abuse refers to any sexual contact that is non-consensual. This can include:
- Forced nudity
- Unwanted intimate touching of ANY kind
- Forced/coerced masturbation
- Forced/coerced observation
- Forced/coerced pornography
- Taking sexually explicit photos or videos
- Sexual harassment
- Unwanted sexual comments
Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Statistics
This form of abuse can happen to anyone, even the elderly. Unfortunately, rates of elder abuse are particularly high in institutions like nursing homes. According to the World Health Organization, 64% of staff in nursing homes and long-term care facilities admit to having perpetrated some form of abuse each year, with .7% representing sexual abuse. However, that number is higher when reported by elders themselves. 1.9% of older adults report being sexually assaulted each year in a nursing home or care facility.
Who is Most at Risk of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes?
The problem is that elderly residents in nursing homes are more vulnerable due to their age, health conditions, and even because of their mental health. According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, nursing home residents with dementia are more likely to be the victims of sexual assault. Women with dementia are even more at risk, and women comprise 65.6% of the nursing home population.
Other risk factors for nursing home sexual assault include:
- Cognitive or developmental disabilities: Nursing home residents who have autism, learning or intellectual disorders, or any other issues with cognitive function are at higher risk of being victims of sexual abuse. This is because they may struggle with understanding certain situations and can more easily be taken advantage of.
- Physical disabilities: Residents who are bedridden or in a wheelchair are also at higher risk because they cannot easily defend themselves or fight back against sexual abusers.
- Mental health issues: Residents struggling with depression or other mental health disorders are often viewed as weak and thus are more vulnerable and at higher risk of being the target of a sexual abuser.
- Isolation and limited social support: Residents who do not get many visitors or who do not have a lot of support from their family or friends are also more likely to be targeted by sexual abusers. This is because the abuser sees them as an easier target because they don’t have anyone in their life who would stand up for them.
Who Are the Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes?
The perpetrator can be anyone who has contact with the nursing home resident. This can include a family member, a friend, a staff member, or even a complete stranger who has found their way into the nursing home. The abusers can be either men or women, but research shows that perpetrators are most often men who are 18 and older.
It is also very common for the abuser to be a staff member as they tend to have the most access to and contact with residents on a day-to-day basis. This can happen when nursing homes are poorly managed or when staff are not adequately trained or even certified to be working in a nursing home.
However, no matter who the abuser is, nursing homes can still be held liable for failing to provide quality care, which includes having a system in place to prevent abuse.
Common Forms of Sexual Assault in Nursing Homes
There are many ways that a nursing home resident can be sexually assaulted. Some of the most common examples include:
- Inappropriate, non-consensual touching, especially when the resident requires help getting dressed or while being bathed.
- The abuser exposing themself in front of the resident.
- The abuser masturbating in front of the resident or forcing the resident to touch themselves.
- Showing the resident pornography.
- Forcing the resident to watch or engage in sexual acts.
- Taking sexual photos or videos of the resident.
- Raping the resident when they are alone in their room.
Signs of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
If your loved one is in the care of a nursing home facility, it’s important to look out for signs that may indicate they are being abused. These signs can be both physical and psychological and can include:
- Bruising, especially around the breasts, inner thighs, and genital area
- Unexplained STDs or genital infections
- Irritation in the genital area, such as pain, redness, or bleeding
- Difficulty sitting or walking
- Stained or bloodied clothing or bed linens
- Unexplained incontinence
- Increased depression
- Sleep disturbances or restlessness
- Withdrawn or lack of interest in social activities
- Panic attacks or increased anxiety
- Fear of or flinching away from being touched
- Showing agitation around a particular person
- Suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide
- Fear of being left alone
- Changes in self-image
- Feelings of shame or guilt
- Poor health or poor hygiene
What to Do if You Suspect Elder Sexual Abuse in a Nursing Home
The law states that nursing home residents have a right to be free from abuse. As such, nursing homes are supposed to have policies and protocols in place to protect their residents from abuse and keep them safe. Thus, if you suspect abuse is occurring, you have the right to report the abuse and get help for your loved one.
If you believe abuse is occurring, take the following steps:
- Ensure your loved one is safe and they are getting the care they need. This means removing them from the nursing home if necessary and making sure they receive medical attention.
- Report the sexual abuse to the nursing home administrator or person in charge of the facility.
- Call the authorities and report the abuse to the local police. If possible, make sure your loved one does not bathe, urinate, brush their teeth, or change clothes as this could get rid of evidence needed to prove they were sexually abused.
- Get in touch with your state’s Ombudsman program. They will assign an ombudsman to investigate the nursing home and your complaint.
- File a report with Adult Protective Services.
- Contact an Indiana nursing home abuse lawyer to file a claim or lawsuit for the abuse.
How a Nursing Home Sexual Assault Lawyer Can Help
Dealing with the sexual abuse of a loved one in a nursing home can be stressful and challenging. When you contact a lawyer, they can offer you guidance and help you navigate the legal process so you can ensure the right party is held accountable. They can also help you file a claim or lawsuit against the nursing home if necessary to recover compensation for the damages you and your loved one have suffered as a result of the abuse.
An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer will know what is necessary to help you build a strong case against the at-fault party and/or the nursing home. They can help you:
- File necessary paperwork
- Investigate the case and help you gather evidence
- Handle communications with the parties involved
- Protect your rights
- Represent you and your loved one in court
- And ensure you are awarded a fair settlement
Crossen Law Firm: Indianapolis Nursing Home Sexual Assault Lawyer
At Crossen Law Firm, our team of personal injury lawyers will fight tirelessly on your behalf and the behalf of your loved one to help you get what you are owed. We understand how delicate sexual abuse cases can be and are here to help. We will ensure the negligent parties are held accountable and can help you recover a settlement for the damages suffered as a result of the abuse.