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Clearwater & Oldsmar Elder Law Attorney
  • The Florida Bar
  • NELF - National Elder Law foundation
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Yes, Sexual Abuse And Sexual Harassment Can Happen In Nursing Homes

NursingHomeNeglect

Most people are understandably terrified of the possibility of children becoming victims of sexual abuse and go out of their way to prevent it.  Parents caution their children against talking to strangers and reassuring children that, if an adult ever tells the child to keep something a secret from their parents, the child should tell their parents immediately.  Laws even penalize adults in caregiving roles for failing to notify authorities if they suspect that a child has been abused.  In fact, all physically and emotionally vulnerable people are vulnerable to sexual abuse, including nursing home residents.  Nursing home employees have a legal responsibility to prevent abuse of residents.  If you suspect that an elderly family member has experienced sexual harassment or sexual abuse in a nursing home, contact a Clearwater nursing home abuse attorney.

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment in Florida Nursing Homes

If you are in your 30s or older, you may remember those TV commercials about sexual harassment in the workplace, but there is a lot more to sexual harassment than that.  Sexual harassment is any unwanted action taken against a person by a person in a position of power over the victim.  Nursing home residents, because of their medical vulnerability, are likely to be unable or unwilling to complain about sexual harassment if it happens to them.  Most victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse in nursing homes are women, especially those with a diagnosis of dementia.  Patients with dementia are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment and sexual abuse because of their inability to describe what has happened to them.

Sexual harassment may or may not involve physical contact.  It can take the form of unwanted touching or of sexual comments that make the victim uncomfortable, even if they are not directly about the victim.  Dirty jokes count as sexual harassment, and so does unwanted propositions of romance.  Sexual abuse involves unwanted sexual acts, including sexual acts to which the victim cannot consent because of lack of mental capacity.

In most instances of sexual harassment and sexual abuse in nursing homes, the aggressor and victim are both residents of the nursing home.  The nursing home employees have a responsibility to supervise residents closely enough that, if one resident is sexually harassing another, the employees can intervene quickly to stop the harassment.  In other words, an ongoing pattern of sexual harassment is often a sign of a larger pattern of employees not paying enough attention to residents’ wellbeing.  If the aggressor has persuaded the victim not to talk to her family about the harassment, this means that the employees have failed to keep the victim safe.  Even if you only saw or heard about one incident of sexual harassment in a nursing home, that is reason enough to voice your concerns.

Contact an Attorney for Help

A Central Florida elder law attorney can help you if your elderly relative in a nursing home has experienced abuse by another resident, and the nursing home staff did not intervene to protect them.  Contact William Rambaum for a consultation today.

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