Hidden Between the Sheets: When Elder Abuse is Sexual

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It’s difficult to say that one type of elder abuse is more abhorrent than another. Yet when elder abuse takes the form of sexual abuse, it somehow seems worse than almost any other form of abuse perpetuated against an elderly person or a dependent adult.

Elder abuse attorney Stephen M. Garcia represented a woman over 100 years old who was repetitively raped by the manager of a long-term care facility in Riverside, Calif.

Rumors had long run rampant that this man was sexually abusing women in his care, but since the women suffered from different degrees of dementia, the man was able to discount them. But one evening the manager was caught by a certified nursing assistant who immediately turned him in to his supervisor.

This was a large nursing home chain, and when the supervisor reported the sexual abuse to her supervisor, the nursing home chain went into action. They immediately flew their corporate head of security to the Riverside nursing home. The manager was fired.

Hours later, the head of security – a former Los Angeles Police Department detective – reported the sexual abuse to the local police. Of course the manager was long gone, probably to another nursing home facility in another state where he could again victimize elderly women without reproach.

As much as it disgusts us, we urge caregivers to be aware of the signs of sexual abuse in the elderly:

  • Torn, stained or bloody clothing.
  • Unusual genital or anal bleeding.
  • Bruises on or around the breasts, genitals, or anus.
  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections.
  • Genital or anal pain.
  • Your loved one seems frightened when a particular person comes in the room.
  • Your loved one talks about sexual acts.
  • Your loved one reports a sexual act against her or him.

If your loved one starts talking about someone “doing something” to her (or to him), pay attention. If your loved one suffers from dementia, look for other signs, or ask a doctor to do an examination.

Sexual abuse is rape. . .regardless of the age or the gender of the victim. Before you report it to anyone else, call your local police immediately. Then report it to the head of the nursing home.