Rape and Sexual Assault in Nursing Homes: Facts You Need to Know NOW

St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer Shares Important Rape and Sexual Abuse Facts to Help Protect Your Loved One

Any kind of abuse against a defenseless elderly person is a horrible crime, but sexual assault in nursing homes or in a rehabilitation facility is a despicable crime.  And our St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer knows it happens far too often than you may believe.  According to government research, approximately 10 to 11% of elders are abused emotionally, physically, sexually, financially, or subjected to neglect.  Sexual abuse and mistreatment is reported in .6% of these cases.  While .6% sounds like a low figure, with 1.4 million residents in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities that .6% becomes 84,000 victims of sexual abuse, or 230 a day.   Imagine that… 230 nursing home residents are victims of sexual abuse every single day. And honestly, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

These are just the victims that we know about, as a CNN investigation revealed “disturbing” data of rampant sexual abuse occurring in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities to victims who are unable to defend themselves or report the crimes.  In recent news we learned of the horrible story of a young woman giving birth to a baby in an Arizona rehabilitation facility.  She had been in a vegetative state for more than a decade at the time of giving birth. During her residency there, someone had been raping her maybe for years. But you don’t have to go to Arizona to find nursing home residents who have been sexually assaulted or raped.

Right here in Missouri, the Terry Law Firm has handled many cases where vulnerable elderly residents were victims of sexual assault carried out by nursing home employees. In one instance, the assault happened on the victims 90th birthday. While she survived the actual assault, it destroyed the remaining year she had to live. For the last year of her life she believed she was “dirty, dirty, dirty”, cried regularly and was terrified that she was going to hell because she was unclean in God’s eyes. Most people don’t think about sexual abuse in elder homes, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other facilities, but the unfortunate truth is that it happens regularly and is devastating to the victims.

Family members and friends are the best advocates for residents of these facilities, particularly if a loved one is unable to communicate potential abuse.  Our St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer wants you to know these important warning signs that every loved one of a resident in a nursing home should know.

Warning Signs of Potential Sexual Assault in Nursing Homes

There are many signs of sexual abuse in an elderly patient, which include the following:

  • Pelvic injuries;
  • Unexplained difficulty walking, sitting, or standing;
  • Bruises, bite marks, cuts, or other injuries on or near the genitals, private parts, or inner thigh;
  • Diagnosis of an STD;
  • Unexplained blood from the anus or genitals;
  • Anxiety or panic attacks that are new and otherwise unprovoked;
  • Extreme mood swings and agitation;
  • Withdrawal from others, including loved ones; 
  • Unusual fear of healthcare providers, particularly of the other gender or one specific provider;
  • Suicide attempts;
  • Attempts to elope or escape the facility;
  • Requests to be discharged; and
  • Other unexplained injuries or behavior.

What to Do if You Suspect Sexual Abuse in a Missouri Nursing Home

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has an extensive website on elder abuse.  The website includes information on detecting, reporting, and intervention, as well as common signs.  The main points of this website are that:

Anyone Can Report Potential Abuse – If you believe there may be sexual abuse occurring in a nursing home, immediately report it to law enforcement or the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

To Report Abuse, provide the 1) name of the victim, location, general condition, contact information, 2) the alleged perpetrator, address, and relationship to the victim, 3) the facts and circumstances behind the claim of abuse, 4) whether there is immediate danger to the victim, 5) the contact information of the reporter, and 6) any other relevant information.

After a Report an investigation will begin.  If there is immediate threat to a resident, law enforcement will be summoned for help.  Investigators will work to determine whether other appropriate interventions are necessary, including adult protective services, referral to community resources, seeking a guardian, or to place a resident in a difficult facility.

Unsure What to Do?  Ask our St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer

Sexual abuse is a very difficult topic to discuss.  It can also a very difficult type of abuse to detect.  If you are unsure how to proceed, contact the Terry Law Firm for a FREE consultation by dialing (314) 334-1443 to learn how we can help protect your loved one’s rights today.  We have more than 18 years of experience working with residents and families of residents who have been sexually assaulted, seriously injured, abused, or neglected by Missouri nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.