While nursing home abuse has steadily increased over the last two decades, sexual abuse in nursing homes goes underreported. Like sexual abuse in other settings, Maryland nursing home residents experiencing sexual abuse may be reluctant to report the conduct for fear that others won’t believe them or that they will face retribution. Although other forms of abuse outnumber sexual abuse at nursing homes, these instances can be severely psychologically and physically damaging to the resident and their family members.
The physical signs of sexual abuse are not as apparent to friends and families compared to other forms of abuse and neglect. However, sexual abuse can result in serious emotional, physical, and psychological trauma. Any unwanted romantic or sexual conduct may amount to sexual abuse. Vulnerable individuals residing in these facilities may not be able to consent or defend against these instances effectively.
Many people may perpetrate these crimes against residents in nursing homes. The most likely abusers are staff members such as aides and nurses, fellow residents, and even visitors. Nursing home staff have the most access to the residents and are most knowledgeable about the victim’s ability to communicate what is happening to them. Other common perpetrators are facility residents. This often occurs when the resident suffers a psychiatric disorder or a history of sexual abuse. Finally, visitors, including family members and those on-site for another reason, may sexually abuse residents. Nursing home administrators should take steps to ensure their residents receive protection from those who may have the propensity to abuse others.