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California Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney

Sexual abuse in nursing homes in California is increasing. Sexual contact without consent and violent or forced sexual contact constitutes abuse. Many seniors with moderate to severe dementia lack the mental ability to consent to sexual contact. Although the elder’s body is that of an adult, due to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the elder’s brain may be more like that of a child. Nursing home residents are weak and defenseless and unfortunately are often easy prey for sexual predators. When a nursing home resident is weak and unable to resist or unable to speak, there is an increase in the likelihood of sexual abuse occurring. Nursing home residents can be sexually abused by a resident, visitor to the facility, or employee. Sexual abuse against an elderly person can be perpetrated in a variety of ways including anything from unwanted touching all the way to an extreme, such as sexual assault and rape.

Sexual abuse can be accompanied by other forms of abuse, including emotional and physical abuse. This makes it extremely important to contact a knowledgeable San Diego elder abuse attorney like ​Joel Bryant.​ He and his team will take swift action by reaching out to the authorities to ensure your elder is no longer in harm’s way. He will then assist you in navigating the courts and legal system to ensure that justice is won for your loved one and that the perpetrator is held responsible for their abusive actions. Responding now could be the difference between a happy and healthy existence for your loved one, and serious trauma or even death.

How is sexual abuse against an elderly individual defined?

Sexual abuse includes a vast array of crimes carried out by a perpetrator. Sexual abuse can range from non-consensual touch to rape. There are a variety of instances in which a perpetrator’s non-consensual actions constitute as sexual abuse. The following are a multitude of actions that can be found to be sexual abuse against an elderly individual if such actions are carried out against an elder without consent:

  • Touching/Grouping of the genitals, breasts, buttocks, or anus
  • Sexual intercourse (or rape) including anal and oral penetration (sodomy)
  • Inserting objects or fingers into an elder’s vagina or rectum
  • Carrying out “medical practices” on an elder when not medically necessary such as creams, enemas, or soaps upon their genitalia, breasts, or buttocks
  • Cleansing either inner or outer areas of the genitalia with abrasive chemicals such as alcohol wipes

There are also forms of sexual abuse that are called “hands off” as they do not include physical contact, however they are still forms of sexual abuse. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Forcing an individual to watch others engaged in a sexual activity, including pornography
  • Watching a victim disrobe for no reason (such as a medical or hygiene one) other than sexual pleasure, known as voyeurism
  • Forcing an elderly individual to disrobe outside of a medical setting in front of others
  • Making sexually explicit content of the victim without their consent such as videos, or pictures

Why does sexual abuse happen in nursing homes?

As set forth above, mental and physical disabilities make elders in nursing homes more vulnerable to sexual abuse. ​Many nursing home residents are weak and defenseless and unfortunately are often easy prey for sexual predators. When a nursing home resident is physically unable to resist, unable to remember everything, or unable or scared to speak up, there is an increase in the likelihood of sexual abuse occurring. There are many other factors which result in an increased risk of sexual abuse in nursing homes occurring and not being discovered. Such factors include:

  • Understaffing​: To increase profits, the nursing home management hires an insufficient number of nurses, nurse assistants or other staff to safely monitor and care for its frail and vulnerable residents. The lack of supervision allows the abuser to be alone with the elder (unsupervised and not monitored) for long periods of time
  • Lack of Training​: To increase profits, the nursing home management hires inexperienced staff (who are cheaper) and fails to provide proper training to its staff to prevent, discover and promptly report sexual abuse of the elderly residents at the nursing homes.
  • Failure to perform background checks​: To save money, the nursing home management hires staff without doing thorough background checks. As a result, some workers with shady criminal backgrounds are hired and put in charge of caring for the frail and vulnerable residents and left alone with them
  • Inadequate security​: The nursing home management fails to implement reasonable security protocols and procedures to keep strangers from entering the nursing home and gaining access to the frail and vulnerable resident’s rooms.
  • Desire to conceal sexual assault​: Some nursing home management fail to promptly contact the authorities once they discover, or suspect, that one of their elderly residents have been sexually assaulted. Often, the management fails to do so because it doesn’t want the elder’s family to learn about the sexual assault or doesn’t want the bad publicity that a reported sexual assault of an elder can cause.

How is sexual abuse concealed?

Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out that an elderly individual is being abused. A common reason is that an elder is in such a vulnerable state that they are unable to communicate that such abuse is occurring. The vulnerable state may be a result of memory loss, a physical disability, a mental disability, or a combination of these. Abuse may also go unreported by an elder if they have a fear that the perpetrator will lash out should another individual find out about the abuse. It is important that if you suspect a loved one is being subjected to sexual abuse that you have a plan to safely remove the elder from the dangerous situation should the perpetrator realize that others have become aware of their crimes. Abuse may also be covered up by the elder themselves out of embarrassment. Often, an elder’s weakened state allows the sexual predator to make unwanted advances, and because of the elder’s weakness, they are unable to escape or defend themselves, leaving them feeling ashamed or embarrassed. Finally, abuse may go unrecognized or concealed if an elder is isolated and is not frequently visited by a loved one who has the elder’s best interests at heart.

What are the signs of sexual abuse? Fortunately, even though sexual abuse can be well concealed, you will have a much better chance of saving your loved one from a sexually abusive environment should you know what to look out for. There are several indicators that may point to the fact that an elder is being abused. Such indicators include:

  • Development of a pelvic injury
  • Problems walking or sitting
  • Contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Torn, bloody, or stained underwear
  •  Bruises on the genital area or inner thighs
  • Bleeding from the anus or genitals
  • Irritation or discomfort of the anus or genitals
  • Unusual hostility towards male caregivers and other males in the facility
  • Unusual outbursts of aggression coupled with references to someone doing “bad things” or being “nasty” to the elder

Sexual abuse can also stimulate other forms of abuse such as emotional abuse. There are emotional signs to watch out for that may indicate the elderly individual is being abused. Such signs of emotional abuse include but are not limited to the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Easily agitated
  • Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Uneasiness around a certain individual out of fear
  • Shrinking from physical contact
  • Efforts to flee the nursing home or certain care
  • Avoidance of assistance when it comes to bathing, changing, or showering
  • Unusual sexual or flirtatious behavior
  • Inappropriate romantic behavior or affection towards another resident or employee

If you suspect that someone has sexually abused your loved one in a nursing home, it is important to contact an experienced elder abuse attorney like Joel Bryant immediately to assist you in getting your loved one to safety and bringing justice down upon the perpetrator.

Who is most likely to commit sexual abuse against an elderly individual in a nursing home?

Sexual abuse is often committed by a person who is familiar with the elderly individual. The perpetrator understands and is familiar with the elder’s vulnerable state and takes advantage of them. This individual can be another resident at the nursing home, an employee and, occasionally, a random visitor or stranger at the nursing home. Often, the perpetrator will be someone who takes advantage of an isolated, demented or other cognitively impaired elderly individual. This means that the people who the elder are left alone with are often the perpetrators of the abuse. Thus, it is extremely important that extensive research is done on the individuals responsible for your loved one’s care prior to employing them to take care of them..

How can I prevent sexual abuse against a loved one?

Unfortunately, even the best prevention measures can still result in sexual abuse being carried out on a loved one. However, there are several steps that can be taken to decrease the risk of a loved one being sexually abused. One of the ways in which this can be done is by frequently visiting the elder at their nursing home or other place of residence. In doing so, you may be able to spot differences in the elder’s behavior and body language that may have only been communicated to you through an in-person visit. Also, in-person visits are a way to subtly examine the elder and ensure that their body does not show any signs of sexual abuse. Frequent visits make it more difficult for a perpetrator to cover up their abusive attacks, and, therefore, less likely that these attacks will occur. Should you be able to visit an elderly loved one, it is recommended that you visit at random times to ensure that the perpetrator is not relying on your visits at a certain time to then proceed to commit and cover up the abuse in accordance with your visiting schedule.

Finally, another way to prevent further sexual abuse in a nursing home is to know the signs as described above. Should you be able to recognize one or more of these signs upon visiting your loved one, contact an elder abuse attorney immediately such as Joel Bryant. He and his legal team will be able to assist you in contacting the correct authorities to ensure the safety of your loved one, and then navigate the legal process to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Who is most at risk of being sexually abused in a nursing home?

All elderly individuals are vulnerable to sexual abuse due to the fact alone that they are generally weaker than the rest of the population. With that being said, there are elders that are even more vulnerable to sexual abuse than their peers. The first group of especially vulnerable people are those who suffer from memory loss and other cognitive impairment. Whether it be dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another form of memory loss, it is harder for these individuals to recall information, therefore making it easier for their abusers to carry out the sexual abuse without being detected. Another group that is more susceptible than other elderly individuals are elders with disabilities. Whether the elder has a physical or mental disability, or a combination of both, a disability will leave an elderly individual more vulnerable because they either cannot properly recognize or communicate the abuse, and they physically are defenseless and can’t get away from their abuser. Finally, an elderly individual that is very isolated is more susceptible to being abused in a nursing home; thus, extensive steps should be taken to ensure that a variety of family members and staff who have the elder’s best interests at heart check in on them frequently to ensure their safety and well being.

Contact a California Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today

Nursing home sexual abuse must be stopped, and the owners of nursing homes are responsible if a resident in their care becomes the victim of nursing home sexual abuse. If one of your loved ones was abused in a nursing home, ​contact ​Attorney Bryant and his team today. It is important for family to speak out on behalf of their elderly family members because many times, elderly individuals are unable to speak up out of fear, embarrassment, isolation, or diseases such as Alzheimer’s that leave them more vulnerable to being abused. Joel Bryant’s experienced team of ​San Diego elder abuse attorneys​ can help recover the compensation you deserve, ensure that your loved one is no longer abused, and help hold the perpetrators responsible for their actions. Mr. Bryant and his team have been one of the top elder abuse firms in San Diego for over 20 years and they are committed to helping you navigate the legal process to get justice for you and your loved one. Reach out today for a free, confidential consultation to see if your loved one’s case warrants legal action.

Signs to look for in all cases of sexual abuse include

  • bruising around breasts, upper abdomen, or inner thigh
  • emotional withdrawal
  • agitation
  • depression
  • difficulty walking or sitting
  • vaginal or anal bleeding
  • presence of sexually transmitted disease
  • genital irritation
  • torn or bloody clothing
  • fear or reaction to a particular staff member who helps resident

It is important to obtain medical help immediately to document any of these signs. There is an increased risk of infections or internal bleeding for elderly people who experience sexual abuse and not seeking immediate help could lead to serious injury or even death. Any act of a sexual nature occurring without your loved one's consent constitutes a form of abuse. If you suspect your loved one is a victim of sexual abuse in the nursing home please contact Attorney Joel Bryant today at (619) 239-7900 for a free legal consultation. In addition to advising you on the victim's rights to compensation, Mr. Bryant will also advise you on how to involve Adult Protective Services and/or the police to immediately stop the abuse.

“Joel and his team were the help I needed to approach the nursing home that didn’t take good care of my grandmother. With Joel’s help, my grandmother was fairly compensated for the injuries she suffered as a result of the nursing home’s neglect and abuse.”

Andrea C.

“When one of the most tragic events happened in my life, Joel Bryant and Jason Julius were there for me when I needed someone the most. They both were very professional, honest, compassionate, and supportive."

Brent R.

“Joel was amazingly accessible, by phone, email and often, in person, and still is. He is a professional with an understanding heart, and a sense of humor. I still feel very fortunate to have had him on my side.”

Michelle B.
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