Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is one of the most tragic types of nursing home abuse. Find out how to protect your loved one and get help if sexual abuse occurs.
sexual abuse

When an elderly person requires nursing home care, families expect that they will be cared for by caring professionals who treat them with kindness, respect and dignity.  While many nursing care facilities do offer all of these things and more, there are unfortunately a plethora of instances in which nursing home residents are subjected to abuse, neglect, poor medical care and even sexual abuse in nursing homes.

Why Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes Occurs

When sexual abuse occurs at a nursing home, it is not always apparent to friends and family.  However, cases of sexual abuse can become extreme in nature resulting in life-threatening mental, physical and emotional trauma.

Sexual abuse is one of the worst types of crime that can take place in a nursing home.  One major problem with sexual abuse in nursing homes is that it takes on a variety of factors, and each one may cause a victim to suffer in silence. Sexual Abuse can occur at the hands of:

Nursing Home Staff

In many instances, nursing home residents are victimized because of their medical conditions.  Many medical conditions make it difficult for them to communicate with others and express what is going on.  Additionally, victims in nursing homes may be intimidated by their abuser.  Some are even told they they will not receive food, medication or other necessities if they speak out about the abuse.

Other Residents

Sexual abuse in nursing homes often occurs at the hands of another resident.  Nursing home residents with psychiatric disorders or a past criminal history may be the most likely to sexually abuse other residents.  It is the responsibility of the nursing home to ensure that residents with psychiatric disorders or a criminal history are constantly monitored so that all residents can live safely.


Strangers can also be guilty of sexual abuse in nursing homes.  This normally happens when a nursing home doesn’t provide adequate security and supervision. Unfortunately, many nursing homes don’t mandate that guests sign-in for visitation and/or don’t have a proper security system installed.  In addition, a staff member simply walking out and forgetting to close the facility door opens up an opportunity for a sexual deviant to gain entrance.  If situations like this occur, the nursing home, by federal law, is almost always liable for negligence.

Family Members

As alarming as it may seem, documents from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) show that, in some instances, family members are guilty of sexual abuse.  Family sexual abuse typically happens when a spouse moves into a nursing home and their partner visits them.  There are also instances where another family member takes advantage of an elderly loved one, however.

If the nursing home resident’s physical or mental condition doesn’t allow them to give consent to sexual relations, any sexual contact can become a type of sexual abuse.  It is up to the nursing home to monitor these types of activities to ensure that residents are safe.

sexual abuse

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, even if victims can communicate, many are often ashamed of what is taking place and therefore, they do not tell anyone.  Family members may not find out about the sexual abuse until it’s too late.  Often, this kind of abuse goes undetected for weeks, months or even years.  In some cases, it is never reported.

It is crucial for loved ones to remain alert about the care of their loved ones.  If you have a feeling that something is a bit off, investigate further.  Know the signs of sexual abuse so that you can take action immediately.  Some of the more common signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Unexplained blood stains on clothing and/or linens and bed sheets.
  • Bleeding and bruising in the genital areas.
  • Bloody, stained or ripped underclothing.
  • Bruising and hand prints on the inner thighs, breasts or buttocks.
  • Unusual fear and anxiety, especially when a certain person – staff member, resident, family member or acquaintance – is nearby.
  • Pain when sitting that was not present before and is otherwise unexplained.
  • Presence of a sexually transmitted disease or infection in the genital area.
  • Depression, withdrawal or refusal to communicate.

If you recognize any of these signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes, don’t be afraid to speak out.  You can find out more about your options by reporting your concerns to law enforcement, Adult Protective Services (APS) or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). 

The Role of a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of sexual abuse, contact the proper authorities in your area to document your claims and have the situation investigated immediately.  Document what you believe are signs of abuse or neglect. 

In addition, it’s imperative to also contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse and nursing home abuse cases.  A knowledgeable nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to help you understand the rights of nursing home residents.  Furthermore, they can provide you with options on how to bring the guilty party to justice.

Getting Legal Help with Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

At Fight Nursing Home Abuse, our lawyers have helped many sexual abuse victims stand up for their rights and obtain financial compensation.  Financial compensation won’t undo the harm done.  However, it can help victims and loved ones have the peace of mind that justice was served.  It can also help cover any medical, psychological and rehabilitation expenses resulting from the abuse.

For more information and to request a no-obligation consultation, call Fight Nursing Home Abuse today.  Our team is available to help you at 1-866-548-9636. 

meagan cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to FNHA and our websites, including Birth Injury Guide and