Sexual abuse is a horrific but common occurrence in nursing homes, affecting hundreds of people nationwide each year. While elderly women and residents with dementia have a higher risk of experiencing this type of mistreatment, any resident of such a facility may be assaulted by an abusive staff member, administrator, or even another resident.
Following sexual abuse in a California nursing home, comprehensive civil recovery may be vital to minimize the long-term harm caused by the abuse and ensure the abuser cannot harm anyone else. Guidance from a compassionate nursing home abuse lawyer can be crucial to achieving the best resolution possible in these types of claims.
Identifying Sexual Abuse of a Nursing Home Resident
Sexual abuse in a nursing home often manifests physical and psychological symptoms that vary from person to person. Any unexplained injury, irritation, or infection around the genital areas of a nursing home resident should be immediate cause for concern, as should difficulty walking or sitting, bruises around the inner thighs or intimate areas, and bloodied or stained undergarments.
Psychological signs that sexual abuse may be occurring include:
- Severe agitation
- Sudden changes in mood or personality
- Newfound fear of being alone in certain places and/or around a particular person
- Severe depression and/or PTSD
- Suicidal ideation
Nursing home residents who are being sexually abused may also have frequent arguments with their abuser or display unusual behavior around them.
What to Do About Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
The most important thing for those responding to allegations of nursing home sexual misconduct is to take the resident at their word. False reports of sexual abuse under any circumstances are extremely rare. Even non-malicious behavior could still constitute a legally actionable violation of a resident’s rights if it makes that resident uncomfortable.
Anyone who suspects sexual abuse is occurring inside a nursing home or who is told about such abuse by a resident should first make sure all impacted residents are safe from further harm. In some situations, this may require removing them from the offending facility with assistance from law enforcement.
Report the Abuse
Once the resident’s immediate needs are met, reports should be made to local law enforcement, the nursing home’s administrator, and the applicable local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
Contact a Lawyer
A dedicated California attorney can help pursue a lawsuit or settlement demand against a resident’s abuser and/or the facility which enabled them. This allows impacted residents—or their family members filing suit on their behalf—to seek restitution for all economic and non-economic consequences of the abuse. Both past and future damages could be factored into a claim, including future losses of enjoyment of life and long-term psychological trauma.
Discuss Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Litigation with a California Attorney
Sexual abuse is a blatant violation of a person’s rights and bodily autonomy, and elderly nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to this type of mistreatment. In this sensitive situation, guidance from compassionate and experienced legal counsel could be vital to ensuring your loved one’s wellbeing and holding the wrongdoer accountable.
Anyone who suspects sexual abuse in a California nursing home should contact a diligent attorney at our firm as soon as possible. Call today for a private consultation about your situation.