How to Prove Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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How to Prove Sexual Abuse In Nursing Homes

The rate of sexual abuse among nursing home residents is terrifyingly high, making it more important than ever for families of nursing home residents to understand the signs of sexual abuse, how to report it, and what evidence you need to prove it.

Here’s what to know and how the qualified New Hampshire and Massachusetts nursing home abuse lawyers can help your loved one obtain justice.

Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

While considering the idea that your loved one could be sexually abused in a nursing home is uncomfortable, knowing the signs and what to look for is an important part of protecting your elderly family member.

Here are some of the most common signs of nursing home sexual abuse:

  • Injuries or bruising that can’t be explained by medical treatments or activities, especially if they are on the genitals, chest, or thighs, or buttocks
  • New sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Changes in personal hygiene, such as showering multiple times a day or refusing to bathe
  • Sudden, overtly sexual or suggestive behavior at inappropriate times
  • Withdrawal from activities or social engagements that were once enjoyed

If you think your loved one may be suffering from sexual or any other kind of abuse in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, the evidence you secure now will become critically important later.

Document Alarming or Suspicious Incidents

Documenting incidents of elder sexual abuse or suspected abuse requires a calm, methodical approach. Any evidence that you collect will be subject to intense legal scrutiny, including how the evidence was obtained. Here are some first steps you can take:

  • Talk to your loved one in a safe, supportive environment and record their statements about what happened.
  • Talk to any witnesses and record their testimonies about what they saw or heard. Include names, dates, and specific details that can help corroborate their statements.
  • Take photos of any visible injuries, bruises, and other signs of physical trauma.

Help the Victim Get the Appropriate Medical Care

Next, make sure your family member gets access to the appropriate medical care from the right kind of professionals. If nursing home staff are responsible for the abuse, it’s unlikely that having your loved one examined by an in-house doctor will help their case. In fact, it may be damaging if the staff decide to destroy evidence or try to cover up what happened.

Talk to the victim throughout the process and when possible, allow them to make decisions about their care. Not only does getting prompt medical support for your family member create an important record that can be used later to prove their injuries, it also helps contribute to their recovery and overall well-being.

Preserve the Evidence

In any sexual assault case, the preservation of evidence is of the utmost importance. Encourage your loved one to avoid washing any clothing they were wearing at the time of the incident and avoid altering anything in the area where the abuse occurred.

You should also bag up clothing, bedding, and other items that may have been worn or used during the assault separately and set them aside for authorities to collect. If possible, avoid touching these items with your bare hands or allowing anyone else besides a police officer to handle the items before or after bagging. They should be collected and given directly to the authorities to avoid potential questions about the chain of custody or potential contamination of evidence.

File a Police Report

Reach out to law enforcement to report the abuse as soon as you learn of it or begin to suspect that your loved one may be a victim of sexual assault. Any delay may be used against you to suggest that you’re not being truthful or the assault never happened. It also prevents nursing home staff from being able to cover their tracks or get rid of important evidence before police officers can obtain it.

Contact a Qualified Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

You shouldn’t have to handle the possible abuse of your elderly loved one alone. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we can provide your family with the experienced, compassionate legal advocacy you need to uphold your loved one’s rights and help them get justice for what happened.

Contact us today to learn more about sexual abuse in nursing homes or to schedule your free initial consultation by calling (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.

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