This ninth episode in the season of “Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases” of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Ms. Marya Simmons, founder and CEO of Shift in Notion Consulting, who discusses considerations in supporting older survivors of sexual assault.
Background information for the interview notes that Shift in Notion Consulting, of which Ms. Simmons is the CEO, focuses on developing and implementing strategies for supporting all victims of sexual assault, regardless of gender, age, or sexual orientation. As its CEO, she is committed to ensuring that law enforcement agencies, advocacy groups, and volunteer support networks have the resources and training they need to provide empathetic, trauma-informed services to the most vulnerable populations. In the current interview, she discusses elder victims of sexual assault and best practices for their support. She notes that for various reasons, elderly persons are vulnerable to sexual assault because they often have mental health conditions and physical impairments. Also, many live alone, which makes them low-risk targets for sexual assault predators. Their appeal to offenders is also heightened by the expectation that they will have difficulty in reporting their victimization to police or cooperating in the investigation. Services needed by elderly victims of sexual assault are many and diverse. They include counseling by specially trained mental health providers, transportation to case-related criminal justice venues, sensitive explanations of investigative procedures that involve the collection of evidence for rape kits, and regular companionship that reduces the anxiety of feeling alone and vulnerable to re-victimization.