Protect Your Vulnerable Adult from Sexual Abuse in a Nursing Home

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The family of 29-year-old Violet Townsend was shocked and appalled to learn that she was being sexually abused at her long term care nursing facility.

After noticing blood on the seat of Violet’s wheelchair, her parents rushed her to a nearby hospital. Hospital staff confirmed that her injuries were consistent with a sexual assault. Violet also had been infected with a sexually transmitted disease.

A 2006 car accident left Violet with a severe brain injury, leaving her dependent on life support and incapable of any physical movement or of speech. Obviously Townsend did not consent to sex.

No one knows how many times Violet was raped or by who. Her father says that even before the blood was noticed, Violet would shake and cry when anyone attempted to touch her. These incidents multiplied until even her parents could not touch her.

The State of Ohio collected a rape kit and investigated the nursing home. Though there is DNA evidence, it has not been linked to anyone at this point. The bottom line is that no one knows who attacked and raped Violet Townsend.

Stories of sexual abuse against dependent adults and other people with disabilities in nursing homes are all too common.

A dependent adult is any person over the age of 18, who is not yet an elder, who is unable to care for themselves or to protect themselves. The adult often has serious developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, or a medical condition such as being in a coma.

Signs of sexual abuse that may indicate your loved one is a victim of sexual assault in a nursing home include:

  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area.
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
  • Unexplained bleeding.
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing.
  • A significant change in your loved one’s behavior, including unexplainable fear, crying, or shaking.
  • Fear when a specific person enters a room.

To report sexual abuse of a dependent adult, contact your local Long Term Care Ombudsman or your state’s 24-hour Adult Protective Services help line, which will refer you to the office in your neighborhood.

A dependent adult who is being sexually assaulted can be protected under all of the elder abuse laws. Contact Garcia, Artigliere & Medby for a free, no-obligation consultation.