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scottsdale • phoenix
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Phoenix Elder Sexual Abuse Attorney

Residents of nursing homes in Phoenix, Arizona are all too frequently subjected to a variety of abuses that are sexual in nature, ranging from forced penetration to kissing and fondling to exhibitionism to offensive and suggestive remarks. These acts are devastating both for the victim and the victim’s family.

In addition to the sense of violation experienced by victims of sexual abuse of all kinds, residents of nursing homes are in an extremely vulnerable position—the loss of security in the only place they can call home adds immeasurably to the psychological damage. An experienced Phoenix elder sexual abuse attorney understands those who are suffering from abuse in nursing homes and will fight for the compensation the victim deserves.

Susceptibility to Abuse

Abuse can happen in any facility, whether in a Phoenix assisted living facility, nursing home, or a group home.The most likely victims are the most vulnerable. That includes residents with:

  • Cognitive impairments; they are most likely to be confused about what is happening and to not be believed if they report the abuse
  • Communication impairments that make it difficult or impossible to report the abuse
  • Serious physical disabilities that make resistance impossible

The Abusers

The sexual abuse may be committed by:

  • Staff members (both direct care and those who clean, cook, repair, etc)
  • Other residents (raising questions about the facility’s procedures and diligence in identifying potentially dangerous residents)
  • Visitors (raising questions about the facility’s internal security and staff competence)
  • Intruders into the facility (raising questions about the adequacy of the facility’s security)

Probably the most common victimizers are the aides who work directly with residents and legitimately spend considerable time alone with them.

Victims May Not Report Abuse and Reports May Not Be Believed

The problem of resident abuse is exacerbated by the fact that many victims are chosen precisely because they have trouble communicating. If their cognitive abilities are severely impaired, they may not understand what happened to them. Many who do understand, and are capable of reporting it, are reluctant to do so because they are embarrassed or afraid—especially if the abuser is still employed on the staff. Some victims are threatened with various forms of retaliation by staff members.

For the same reasons, when these victims manage to make a report, it may be dismissed as fantasies, delusions or attempts to get attention.

Signs of Possible Abuse

Abuse is obvious when a resident develops a sexually transmitted disease or becomes pregnant. Short of that, when the victim can’t or won’t directly report the abuse, it is up to the staff, the victim’s visitors and the victim’s medical caregivers to identify signs of the abuse. These may consist of:

  • Blood or other stains on clothing or bedding material
  • Bleeding, bruising, scratches and the like around the genitals or breasts
  • Pain in the vaginal and/or anal areas
  • Depression and withdrawal (decreased communication and interest in former activities)
  • Agitation and anxiety, especially when near a specific person

Failure to Identify or to Halt Abuse

The main theory for holding the Arizona nursing homes responsible is that abuse was foreseeable and the facility failed to prevent it. That may involve any number of failures, from not identifying dangerous staff members and residents, to not having enough staff, to not taking adequate precautions to prevent strangers from entering the facility.

The most extreme case of nursing home breach of care occurs on the relatively rare occasions when the facility responds to reports of abuse by merely transferring the offending staff member elsewhere. While that may protect the current victim, it usually creates new victims.

Staff members who interact with the residents daily—collecting laundry, bathing and dressing residents, etc—are in the best position to see signs that abuse has occurred. In many cases, the facility’s negligence in allowing the sexual abuse to occur is compounded by failing to recognize the signs of it, which allows it to continue.

Get Help From A Phoenix Elder Sexual Abuse Attorney

It’s hard to even talk about the abuse of a helpless relative, let alone think about the need to get strangers involved in the conversation. But the nursing home won’t be held to account for the injuries and indignity without the help of experienced an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney. At the law firm of Knapp & Roberts, our Phoenix elder abuse lawyers understand the delicacy of the subject, and we’ve successfully dealt with these cases before. Call us today.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.