Abuse of elderly and vulnerable adults in any form is a tragic occurrence. Even more tragic is when the nature of the abuse is sexual. Events of this nature happen even in care facilities families have trusted with their loved ones. Such abuse is psychologically and physically damaging to the victims.
CNN has done multiple segments on nursing home abuse. In one segment, they show the stories of sexual abuse in care facilities. The stories are heart-breaking and illustrate some of the causes for such abuse.
How Sexual Abuse Affects the Victim
Sexual assault is intrinsically harmful. The act of sexually assaulting a vulnerable adult is outrageous and intolerable to the civilized community.
According to a report produced by Marquette University, genital injuries are much more likely to happen in the rape of an elderly women. The trauma could result in vaginal lacerations, tearings and bruising of forcible penetration. In many cases, the injuries require surgery to repair.
It is common for there to be other bruises or injuries as a result of the resistance during the assault. In many cases that assault and trauma can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. For example, an individual who has osteoporosis may likely experience a cracking or breaking of bones as a result of the incidents.
Emotional and Psychological
The emotional trauma for victims after rape can be severe. In the time closely following the incident, victims will often express disbelief and denial. Later, the victims may feel hopeless, afraid and even angry about what happened to them.
These emotions and feelings may manifest themselves as hostility and aggression towards caretakers.
Causes of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Sexual assault including rape can happen in a relatively short time. However, the issue is that the caregivers are alone with these residents for extended periods of time. If the facilities were properly staffed it would likely reduce the amount of incidents occurring. The increased number of employees would help keep one another accountable for proper conduct with residents.
Lack of Sufficient Vetting During the Hiring Processes
Many facilities are in need of people willing to work at the facilities. Because of that demand many potential employees are hired out of necessity. Proper background checks and other precautions are sometimes not taken. Such precautions might prevent individuals with prior sex-related and other criminal backgrounds from working with patients.
Lack of Appropriate Action in Response to Accusations
Because many of the victims are not believed there is often little action after the residents report the incidents. In a case featured in a CNN article, “Sick Dying and Raped” a man named Antonio Nieto was accused of raping a resident. Because the claims were deemed “unfounded” Nieto returned to work at the facility. Years later, he confessed to sexually assaulting another resident. When police were notified they were shocked to hear the man still worked at the facility and that appropriate action was not taken after the first incident.
In another report by CNN a man sexually assaulted six women. Several of the incidents were reported to facility management but the incidents went either uninvestigated or underinvestigated. According to one of the victim’s, the response she received was that she should “…go live under a bridge, because nothing like that happened.”
Our own Mark Kosieradzki said the following on the sexual abuse of people in nursing homes:
“Predators find elderly patients to be easy prey. Those patients often have dementia. They can’t say what happened, or are not believed because many people find it inconceivable that a 28-year-old caregiver would want to rape someone’s grandmother.”
Why Are Abuse Victims not Given the Help They Need?
Facility Management may Attempt to Cover Up Evidence
It is not necessarily in the management’s best interest to have rape or other forms of sexual assault investigations happening at their facility. Directors and managers of the facilities are responsible for protecting the reputation of the company. In some cases of abuse, members of the company have been caught trying to hide evidence.
The Victims are Often Blamed
In many cases the elderly women are called “flirts”, “troublemakers” or even “attention-seekers” in an attempt to brush aside the allegations.
Victims may Fail to Report the Incidents
Sometimes victims are hesitant to report incidents because they are afraid of retaliation. The accused individual may become angry and react or the facility’s management may become aggravated with the patient that speaks up. As a result, victims may choose to remain quiet about the incidents.
In other situations, victims may fail to report incidents because they are ashamed. In the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, A Nicholas Groth published an article in which he interviewed an elderly woman who had been raped. She failed to report the rape for an extended period of time. She said the following, “I should have told… the first time but I was scared… I believed it was my
cross to bear.”
Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm is Literally Writing the Book on Nursing Home Abuse
As the American population ages, the need for nursing homes and other types of care facilities will also increase. As a result, it is likely that more cases of abuse may occur. The nursing home abuse lawyers at the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm have years of experience bringing justice to the victims and their families. In fact, the attorneys of the law firm are in the process of writing a book on nursing home abuse.
If your loved ones have been injured, abused or neglected in a nursing home, you should contact the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm. We’ve helped hundreds of victims all over the nation. We can help you too.