Sexual Abuse

sexual-abuseSexual abuse can be a serious and dehumanizing form of nursing home abuse.  Nursing home or rehabilitation facility residents and their loved ones should never need to feel concerned over sexual assaults or misconduct in any long-term care facility.

Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:

  • Non-consensual or forced sexual activity
  • Medically unnecessary handling or molestation of the body or sex organs
  • Violence or assaults that target genitalia
  • Any sexual activity with a mentally incompetent or incapacitated person
  • Forcing someone to watch sex acts or pornography
  • Forcing someone to undress while being watched

Sexual abuse can come from staff members, those who vulnerable residents must rely on for care, but can also come from other residents. Poor facility security can also make nursing homes a target for outside intruders and sexual predators.

Sexual Abuse Statistics

  • 67% to 33% – The approximate percentage of women vs. men in reported incidents of sexual abuse
  • 36% – Percentage of nursing homes found to be in violation of elderly abuse laws (includes sex abuse)
  • 10% to 25% – The approximate percentage of all sexual abuse incidents in nursing homes actually reported by victims or witnesses 

Preventing Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes and Rehabilitation Facilities 

Those with a loved one living in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility should scrutinize the facility’s background screening procedures used for hiring staff.  In many states, the law bans nursing homes from hiring staff with any criminal past indicative of sexual or violent crimes.

Visitors should also speak with their loved ones about these issues and encourage an alert disposition on the subject. Watch for unexplained behavioral changes, evasiveness, or any signs of physical abuse. Physical abuse can be directly link with sexual abuse. If in doubt, speak with the facility’s management and contact the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.


FL Dept. of Elder Affairs
Marquette Elder’s Advisor

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