Identifying Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
May 4, 2021
Although many people are aware of the risk and prevalence of physical abuse in nursing homes, they may not realize the extent of sexual abuse that is also inflicted on residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities. If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, you should familiarize yourself with the signs that your family member may be the victim of sexual abuse and what you and your family can do to protect your loved one.
Risk Factors for Sexual Abuse
Nursing home residents are particularly at risk for sexual abuse. They may suffer from physical disabilities that render them incapable of resisting an attack. Or due to memory or cognitive decline, a nursing home resident may not even know or realize that they have been the victim of sexual abuse. Other residents who have suffered sexual abuse may be physically or cognitively unable to report their abuse to others.
Signs That a Nursing Home Resident May Be the Victim of Sexual Abuse
If your family has a loved one living in a nursing home, you should be vigilant for any of the following signs that they may have suffered sexual abuse:
- New difficulties sitting or walking
- Bruising around the genitals, anus, inner thighs, or breasts
- New sexually transmitted diseases
- Torn, stained, or bloodied underwear
- Other pelvic injuries
- Abrupt behavioral changes, including agitation, withdrawal, anxiety, or depression
- Suicidal behavior
- Panic attacks
- Engaging in unusual sexual behavior
- Engaging in soothing behaviors, such as mumbling or rocking
- Unusual behavior between the resident and a potential abuser
- Fear of being left alone or being left with a potential abuser
What to Do If a Family Member Has Been the Victim of Sexual Abuse in a Nursing Home
If you suspect that a family member in a nursing home has been the victim of sexual abuse, you should immediately inform the nursing home management. You should also contact local law enforcement, who may investigate your concerns and initiate a criminal complaint against the suspected abuser.
You can also file reports with the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman, with the county adult welfare agency, and with the New Jersey Department of Health that oversees licensed nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Finally, you and your family should speak to a nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your loved one’s legal rights and options. Your loved one may be entitled to hold their abuser and, in certain circumstances, their nursing home accountable for the harm and losses they’ve suffered due to their injuries, including for:
- Cost of medical treatment for injuries or other physical harm inflicted by the abuse
- Future expected medical expenses
- Costs of mental health therapy
- Costs to transfer your loved one to a new nursing home facility
- Physical pain and suffering caused by physical and emotional trauma
- Emotional distress
In addition, your loved one and your family may also be entitled to recover punitive damages, which can punish the abuser and those who enabled them for their egregious conduct.
Contact a Rochelle Park Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today
Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home negligence or abuse in New Jersey, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at the Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Paramus, Ridgewood, Mahwah, and Englewood. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.