Any person, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, among others, is vulnerable to sexual abuse; however, some population groups are at greater risk, among which we find: children, women, people with disabilities, and adults over 60 years old.
The following figures show the prevalence of sexual and other types of abuse among older adults and the low level of reporting of these cases:
– One in ten Americans over the age of 60 has experienced some form of abuse.
– Emotional and verbal abuse, as well as financial abuse, are the most common types of elder abuse.
– Only one in fourteen cases of elder abuse is reported to authorities.
– In nearly 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member.
As you can see, older adults are exposed to various types of abuse. Learn below the characteristics of each and how you can identify if a senior is suffering from any type of abuse.
Sexual and other types of abuse common in older adults
The older adult population is not only vulnerable to suffering sexual abuse, but it is also common for them to be victims of other abusive behaviors that can affect both their physical and mental health. Learn more about them below.
Sexual abuse. Many older adults are victims of sexual abuse, but it is a crime that is underreported to authorities, making it difficult to know its actual prevalence. Contrary to false beliefs, the perpetrators of elder sexual abuse are family members, relatives, and caregivers.
Physical abuse. This refers to the use of force to cause physical injury or discomfort. It includes physical assaults, pushing, shoving, shaking, hitting, tying, force-feeding, and failure to administer required medications.
Psychological abuse. This refers to the use of words or other acts to provoke distress in the person and to stimulate the elder’s dependence on the abuser. It includes threats, insults, not speaking to or ignoring him or her, and even infantilization.
Neglect. It has to do with the lack of provision of food, medication, care, or the satisfaction of their needs in general. Through this type of abusive behavior, there is physical and psychological damage caused to the victim.
Financial abuse. The actions included in this type of abuse seek to deprive people of their possessions or money in order to appropriate them. Some of its manifestations are scams, irresponsible management of their finances, and pressure to distribute their possessions.
Although the victim of abuse may suffer from some type of disease such as dementia, paying attention to changes in their behavior is essential to detect possible cases of abuse in older adults.
How to identify that an older adult is a victim of sexual abuse?
Ongoing communication with the older adult and observation are essential to be able to detect sexual abuse in the elderly. Here are some warning signs.
– The older adult appears depressed, confused, or distant.
– The older adult remains isolated from friends and family.
– Unexplained bruises, burns, or other scars appear on their body.
– Their physical appearance is evidence that they are not receiving sufficient food, medication, and care.
– The appearance of bedsores. A condition that is preventable.
– Changes in your spending patterns and financial affairs are recorded.
If you identify these types of warning signs, it is important that you take action to prevent sexual and other types of abuse from continuing to grow in silence. It is essential to speak out and break the chains of abuse.
In the #YoDigoNoMas Movement, we promote the prevention of abuse in all its manifestations and regardless of whom it affects. In any human being, sexual abuse has multiple negative consequences that no one should have to face. Learn more about our Movement and join our cause.