Chicago Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorneys
One particularly appalling abusive situation is the sexual abuse of the elderly, infirm, or other patients unable to fully care for themselves. Abusers often target the most helpless of victims, including those with dementia and Alzheimer's. It seems to be their theory that if they sexually abuse such a person, then the authorities will not believe that the abuse occurred. Sadly, many elderly people who are sexually abused are either unwilling or unable to report the crime against them, which means their friends and families must remain vigilant in watching for signs of abuse.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one has been the victim of any type of sexual abuse, even harassment, then you should immediately report your suspicions. You might not want to admit even to yourself, that it is a possibility, but trust your instincts and protect those that you care about. Contact local law enforcement right away, as well as the Illinois Department of Public Health. Then, call Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (312) 644-0444. Our experienced Chicago nursing home sexual abuse attorneys can sit down with you to discuss what has happened and the options available to you and your family.
What Is Elder Sexual Abuse?
Any initiation of sexual conduct with an elderly patient is considered sexual abuse when that contact is unwanted or nonconsensual. (This also includes sexual contact with any patients who are unable to give meaningful consent.) Although elder sexual abuse can occur anywhere, unfortunately, it most often happens in nursing homes. Some examples of elder sexual abuse include:
- Assault and battery of a sexual nature
- Nude photography
- Unwanted sexual touching
This kind of touching or sexual assault is not only a basis for a civil lawsuit against the nursing facility, but is also a criminal act and should immediately be reported to the police and the Illinois Department of Public Health for further investigation.
Warning Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse
When an elderly or infirm person is abused sexually, there may be physical signs that such abuse has taken place. Other times, there may be no obvious physical signs at all, but instead, psychological clues may appear. It is of the greatest importance that family and friends carefully and constantly monitor their elderly loved ones to look for any such signs or clues. Some include:
- Social withdrawal or depression
- Unusual and abrupt changes in mood
- Bruises that appear on the breasts, thighs, or genital area
- Vaginal bleeding
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
- Bloody clothing or undergarments
- Trouble sitting or walking
- Fear of caregiver or increased anxiety
Who Are the Perpetrators and the Victims?
Information about elder sexual abuse is somewhat scarce due to the nature of the crime. For one thing, none of us want to think about or discuss it, but it is a reality and needs to be understood. Only about 30% of elder sexual abuse victims report their abusers to the police; this contributes to the difficulty in gaining information about these crimes. What is known, according to studies, is that:
- In more than 80% of cases, the offender is the caregiver of the elderly person.
- More than 80% of victims live in an institutional care facility such as a nursing home.
- About 67% of elder sexual abuse is committed by family members.
- Nursing home staff and assistants, live-in nurses, and friends have also committed abuse.
- Other care providers who are left alone with patients have been charged with abuse in various cases.
- In more than 75% of cases, there is at least one witness to the abuse.
- Women are 6 times more likely to be victims of elder sexual abuse than males.
- The older the abuse victim is, the less likely the offender will actually be convicted.
- Elder sexual abuse victims are less likely to be believed if there are no signs of physical trauma.
Where Does Elder Sexual Abuse Usually Occur?
Everywhere: abuse can happen in a person's own home, at a nursing home or similar facility, or in the home of another friend or family member. Once again, statistics on these types of cases are somewhat sparse, but what is known is that:
- About 12% of elder sexual abuse victims are assaulted in their own home.
- Another 14% of victims are assaulted in the sex offender's home.
- About 70% of elder sexual abuse cases occur in nursing homes specifically.
As you can see, the vast majority of reported cases takes place in nursing homes, and is typically committed by a caregiver to the victim. This is why it is so important for friends and family members to watch for signs of abuse and remain alert when their loved ones are in these facilities.
What Can Be Done?
If you suspect something is wrong, trust your instincts and do something about it. First of all, elderly sexual abuse is a serious crime, so immediately report your suspicions to local law enforcement. File a report and complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health, which is responsible for overseeing and licensing nursing homes and similar facilities. You should then protect your loved one and seek compensation for his or her pain and suffering. Not only will this ensure the future of your loved one’s care, but it will punish the sexual predator or facility that allowed him/her to abuse your loved one.
Call the Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys affiliated with Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (312) 644-0444 to talk about your loved one’s rights and legal options. We have over 25 years of experience and provide determined representation for our clients and their families.