As parents and caregivers, we do our best to ensure that we are placing our children and our elders in safe environments. Despite our best intentions, however, children and the elderly remain at a heightened risk for becoming victims of sexual abuse. Institutions that should be safe havens for the vulnerable can transform into hellish environments when sexual predators are introduced.
Children are most at risk for sexual abuse from a non-family member in settings where they remain outside the supervision of their parents, such as:
It is extremely difficult to know the exact amount of children who are sexually abused as many cases go unreported. In 2003, there were 78,188 cases of child sexual abuse that were reported through child protective agencies, yet surveys of adult women show that 9-28% of them report that they were sexually abused, which would make that number much higher.
Although the impact of an episode of sexual abuse may not be outwardly apparent, studies repeatedly confirm that people who are sexually abused as children continue to suffer life-long problems in different areas of their lives.
Elderly: prime victims for sexual abuse in institutions and caretakers
Those who are elderly or are physically or mentally unable to protect themselves are also at risk for sexually abuse. These adult victims are primarily at risk for uninvited sexual contact in a long-term care setting such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. These victims are targets due to their limited ability to fight off sexual advances or that they are cognitively unable to report the abuse. Many are further traumatized with fear tactics to ensure their silence.
Signs of sexual abuse in adult victims can be physical, emotional or behavioral changes. Some common characteristics of sexual abused patients in nursing homes or assisted living facilities:
- Physical symptoms. The victim may have bruising and lacerations on or around their genital regions, wrists, ankles and other extremities. Sexually transmitted diseases and infections can also be signs of sexual abuse.
- Emotional trauma. Sexual abuse victims may become depressed or withdrawn and express fear of being left alone or with healthcare workers. They may become fearful or resistant of being dressed or undressed for routine care.
- Behavioral changes. Victims may show signs of anxiety or anger. Cognitively impaired individuals such as those with dementia may begin displaying new behaviors, including avoidance of certain staff members, sleep disturbances and violent episodes.
Demonstrating the extent of sexual abuse in civil lawsuits
In many of our cases involving sexual abuse, we use the services of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health experts both to help our clients personally cope with some of the emotional issues that they encounter and to help jurors understand the horrors that our client experienced. Frequently, the use of these experts translates into a more valuable case as these experts can better articulate the impact on the individual than the people are usually capable of doing themselves.Chicago Lawyers Helping Victims Of Sexual Abuse Move Forward
As sexual abuse attorneys Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has experience representing victims of sexual abuse, and we are mindful of the emotional toll these cases have on victims when they are forced to re-live their experiences. All safeguards are used to minimize the emotional toll on the individual involved through the course of settlement or litigation of the case.
If you or a loved one is the victim of sexual abuse while at any institution in Chicago or throughout the State of Illinois, please contact our law office for a confidential discussion of your situation and your legal rights. Our lawyers will answer your questions in a safe, no-pressure environment.
Resources for individuals and families copies with sexual abuse: