Elder sexual abuse occurs when a person over 60 is forced, tricked coerced or manipulated into any unwanted sexual contact. It also includes sexual contact with anyone who is unable to give her/his informed consent. Unfortunately, some older persons make the perfect target due to their decreased functioning and/or reliance on caretakers, which makes them less likely to report, fight back or be believed.
Who abuses the elderly?
There is limited research on the abuse of the elderly, but it is estimated that roughly 2/3 of all elder abusers are family members 1. One study documented that 12.2% of older victims were sexually assaulted in their home; 2.4% were assaulted in an adult care residence; 14.6% were assaulted in the abuser’s home and 70.7% of older victims were assaulted in a nursing home 2
Why are elder victims unwilling to talk about abuse?
As victims, the elderly often suffer in silence with overwhelming feelings of shame and embarrassment. They don’t want to believe what is happening to them and are afraid that it will worsen if they do come forward.
Elderly victims can have memory lapses or have difficulty expressing their abuse. All of which makes it difficult for the elderly to talk about what is occurring.
Where can I go for help?
Help is available by contacting PAAR at 1-866-END-RAPE. Counseling services and advocacy at the hospital and court are available to all victims of sexual violence. All services are free.You can also call the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging at 412-350-6905 or 1-800-344-4319 to report abuse or neglect. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Reporting can be anonymous.
.What are the signs of abuse?
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area
- STD’s/Genital infections
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Sudden changes in behavior
Keep in mind that sexual abuse may be one element of the abuse. If you see and of these signs, or suspect abuse, arrange for medical attention.
- National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, 1998
- Teaster, Roberto, Duke, Myeonghwan, 2000, Journal of Elder Abuse