Addressing sexual assault amongst elders

An article posted on The Conversation addresses a difficult topic to tackle; sexual abuse and assault towards elderly people, specifically women.

A disheartening topic for sure, but also one that demands recognition and acknowledgement in hopes of preventing these occurrences from occurring.

The article outlines research that was published in Legal Medicine that looked at 28 forensic medical examinations of “female nursing home residents who had allegedly been victims of sexual assault in Victoria over a 15-year period.”

Examined by Clinical Forensic Medicine, a sector of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, these cases took place between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2015.

The following findings come directly from the article:

“The majority of the alleged victims had some form of cognitive or physical impairment. All 14 perpetrators who were reported were male, half of whom were staff and half other residents. The majority of case reports didn’t indicate whether the alleged victim had received treatment for the assault.

“The most frequent alleged sexual contact was vaginal contact or penetration. Injuries weren’t reported for every case. Where present, they consisted of bruising, skin tears, redness and swelling.”

The article explains that sexual assault amongst the elderly is far more common than we may realize because it is well-hidden. It is believed that roughly 20,000 cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation occurred in Victoria prior to 2007.

I have read reports and have heard of instances in retirement and assisted-living homes in which resident encounter physical and mental abuse, though prior to reading this article, I was unaware of how prominent sexual abuse is as well. It is extremely difficult for these victims to come forward with their testimonies for various reasons, in my opinion; it is probable that their claims will not be taken seriously because of their age (which is ageism), and further, it is difficult to provide evidence of sexual assault against an elderly person, as explained in the article.

Do yourself a favour and read the article, liked above. This is an issue that requires attention from each and every one of us.

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