Sexual Elder Abuse

Sexual Elder Abuse Is…

  • The forced or unwanted sexual interaction (touching and non-touching acts) of any kind with an older adult.
  • Sexual abuse is also committed if sexual interaction involves an incapacitated person or one who is not competent to give informed approval.
  • Sexual abuse happens to older adults and dependent adults in all settings, including nursing homes, long-term care facilities, the victims’ homes.

Signs Of Sexual Elder Abuse Are…

  • Bruising on body, particularly in the genital area and buttocks, breasts, inner thighs
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Fear of caregiver or others in the vicinity
  • Genital or anal bleeding
  • Torn or bloody undergarments

If You Suspect Sexual Elder Abuse, Ask…

  • Ask for details in a non-judgemental manner and using direct, short questions.
  • Are they physically and mentally able to resist? Able to walk? Run? Bedbound?
  • Do they have the capacity to consent to a sexual assault exam? If not, ask the health care power of attorney if the victim has one.
  • If the abuser is not known, ask who had unsupervised access? Someone who bathed and clothed the elder?
  • Do they have difficulty urinating, defecating, walking or sitting?

If You Suspect Sexual Elder Abuse…

  • Arrange an immediate Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exam.
  • Use the First Responder Checklist to list everyone who had access to the victim. Document and describe injuries as well as victim’s level of independence and functioning.
  • Take photographs of any physical injuries. (See Photo Tips.)
  • Take victim and witness accounts of how the victim was injured. (See Interviewing Older Adults.)
  • Cross report to local ombudsman program, if the victim is in a nursing home. (See Community Resource Referral.)
  • Explore and document the possibility of other types of abuse.