Warning Signs Of Sexual Abuse Are Not Always Physical
Sexual contact that is forced, tricked, threatened, or otherwise coerced upon an elder, including anyone who is unable to grant consent may be considered sexual abuse.
Bruises around the breasts or genital area and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases are the most common physical signs of sexual abuse of the elderly. Unlike with neglect, or even physical abuse, people who are sexually abused often feel ashamed and may not tell someone about the abuse.
The elderly are particularly vulnerable to both neglect and abuse, especially if they have suffered any form of diminished mental capacity (i.e., dementia.) They may become easily confused about who is abusing them, or manipulated into thinking it was their own fault, or even forget that the abuse has taken place.
You may not see physical evidence (i.e., bruises of the genitalia or anus) that are hidden by clothing, however, most victims of sexual assaults or abuse will show some other signs such as crying, depression, shutting down, or may even become hostile or angry. Some patients may become so depressed they will no longer engage in social activities or even stop eating. It is important to take any sudden change in mood, temperament, or behavior as a warning sign that something is wrong.
Immediately Report Suspected Sexual Abuse
It can be challenging to pursue criminal charges against offenders unless the abuse is caught on tape, there is DNA evidence, or a reliable witness comes forward. However, it is still very important you report any suspected abuse to the proper authorities so the situation can be investigated. Even if you move your loved one to another care facility (or from the home of a caretaker suspected of abusing an elderly person) you should still report the abuse as the abuser may simply move on to a new victim.
Civil Lawsuits For Elder Abuse
You can also pursue a civil suit against an individual or care facility if your loved one has been sexually, or otherwise abused. Because it is important to collect and examine evidence, as well as interview potential witnesses in a timely manner, the sooner you call an elder abuse personal injury attorney the stronger your case may be.
In a civil law suit there is less of a “burden of proof” to prove abuse took place; you may only need to show that there was reasonable evidence of neglect or abuse. Civil suits will not affect a criminal case, and a criminal case may have no bearing on a civil suit as they are two separate bodies of law. You may not need to actually go to trial, many insurance companies of care facilities will offer a settlement to avoid a trial. However, it is extremely important that you talk to an attorney before talking with any insurance company about a settlement or you could end up accepting an unfair settlement. Only an experienced elder abuse lawyer can tell you the value of your case.
If you are successful in pursuing civil action in a case involving elder sexual abuse or neglect you may be awarded financial compensation to pay for medical expenses, court or other legal costs, and be reimbursed for other direct financial costs that resulted from the abuse. You may also be able to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages serve as a financial punishment and are awarded in addition to other types of damages.
Experienced Massachusetts Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect and Attorneys
The elderly are particularly vulnerable to both neglect and abuse, especially if they have suffered any form of diminished mental capacity. They may become easily confused about who is abusing them, or manipulated into thinking it was their own fault, or even forget that the abuse has taken place. If your loved one has contracted an STD, it is important that you get all the facts and not just assume what the nursing home tells you is the entire story. Our lawyers can help you discover the facts and hold negligent or abusive caregivers accountable for their actions.
We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case. Our personal injury law firm takes cases involving elder abuse and neglect. We offer legal service to clients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Massachusetts Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect Personal Injury Attorneys, Free Consultation. No fee if no recovery.
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