Many different types of abuse occur in nursing homes throughout the country. While many nursing home residents are neglected because their facilities are understaffed or unequipped to handle their needs, others face explicit abuse at the hands of their caregivers. This abuse can be physical, psychological, emotional, financial, and sexual.
When your loved one faces any type of nursing home abuse, you need to be a voice for him or her. It is up to you to recognize when your loved one is being abused, to get him or her the treatment he or she needs, to report the abuse to the Minnesota Department of Health Adult Abuse Reporting Center, and ultimately, to pursue compensation for your loved one’s damages related to the abuse on his or her behalf.
NURSING HOME SEXUAL ABUSE STATISTICS
The following statistics come from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and illustrate the prevalence of sexual abuse in America’s nursing homes:
- Approximately 83 percent of victims of elder sexual abuse reside in nursing homes and other types of institutional care facility;
- In approximately 80 percent of elder sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator was the victim’s caregiver;
- In about 76 percent of elder sexual abuse cases, there was at least one witness to the abuse;
- Women are six times more likely than men to face sexual abuse; and
- Approximately 30 percent of sexual abuse victims over the age of 65 report their abuse to authorities.
There are ways to reduce your loved one’s chance of facing sexual abuse in his or her nursing home. One of these is to thoroughly vet every potential facility for your loved one before choosing one. Inquire about each facility’s past citation record and whether there is a hotline or another procedure in place for reporting instances of abuse. Once you choose a nursing home, your job as an advocate is not finished. Visit your loved one regularly and get to know the people who care for him or her each day. This way, you will be better equipped to recognize symptoms of abuse and take action if necessary.
EXAMPLES OF SEXUAL ABUSE THAT CAN OCCUR IN A NURSING HOME
Sexual abuse can take many different forms. Examples of sexual abuse that can occur in a nursing home include:
- Touching a resident in a sexual manner without his or her consent;
- Exposing the resident to sexually explicit images, videos, or the caregiver’s own naked body;
- Forcing the resident to strip and remain naked without a valid reason for remaining naked, such as bathing;
- Taking explicit photographs or videos of the resident;
- Engaging in sexual activity with a resident; and
- Engaging in sexual violence against a resident.
Sexual abuse can occur independently or alongside other forms of abuse. For example, a caregiver who sexually molests residents might also employ emotional abuse tactics, telling the residents that their families do not love them or psychologically abusing them by denying that the abuse is occurring and telling them they are imagining it.
HOW SEXUAL ABUSE IMPACTS RESIDENTS’ HEALTH
Sexual abuse can impact a resident physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Physical symptoms of sexual abuse include:
- Bruises and cuts on the victim’s body;
- Bleeding from the anus or genitals;
- Injuries like broken bones and sprains from rough handling or physically struggling against an abuser;
- Bloody and stained clothing; and
- A diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease.
Other symptoms of sexual abuse include:
- Emotional withdrawal;
- Changes in personality;
- Panic attacks;
- Symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder; and
- Engaging in inappropriate or sexually aggressive behavior.
A resident can suffer long-term, potentially permanent complications from the sexual abuse he or she faces. This can include permanent disabilities stemming from injuries sustained due to sexual violence, depression and other mental health disorders related to the abuse, and complications from sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDs.
SEEKING COMPENSATION FOR YOUR LOVED ONE’S DAMAGES AFTER SUFFERING SEXUAL ABUSE
Through a nursing home abuse claim, you can seek compensation for the following damages on your loved one’s behalf:
- His or her medical expenses;
- Expenses related to your loved one’s emotional trauma from the abuse, such as the cost of psychological counseling;
- The cost of relocating your loved one to another facility;
- Punitive damages, compensation meant to penalize the facility for its negligence; and
- Compensation for your loved one’s reduced quality of life following the abuse.
Often, determining the full scope of a sexual abuse victim’s damages requires a thorough investigation of the case. This could mean numerous medical diagnostics, interviews with the facility’s staff members, and an evaluation of the victim’s mental and physical health to determine the type of treatment he or she needs and how much he or she realistically will recover.
When you fear your loved one is being abused, discuss your concerns with him or her and with his or her caregivers. No matter what type of response you receive, have your loved one examined by a doctor and keep a record of this examination. If you do file a nursing home abuse claim, this record will be an important piece of evidence to support the claim. Making sure your loved one receives prompt medical treatment can also improve his or her chance of recovering completely from any physical injuries he or she suffered.
WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED MINNESOTA NURSING HOME ABUSE LAWYER
If your loved one was sexually abused in his or her nursing home, be his or her advocate and contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to learn more about your loved one’s rights and your legal options for pursuing compensation for damages on his or her behalf. Contact Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC today to set up your free consultation with us to learn more. We are here to help you be the most effective advocate you can be for your loved one.