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Elderly Victims of Sexual Abuse and Their Offenders

NCJ Number
216550
Author(s)
Ann W. Burgess
Date Published
June 2006
Length
156 pages
Annotation
This exploratory study provided evidence that adults ages 60 and older have been victims of sexual abuse in their homes, in nursing homes, and in the community.
Abstract
For the 284 victims whose cases were referred to law enforcement or to adult protective services for investigation for suspected sexual abuse, the mean age was 78.8 years. The majority of the victims were female (93.2 percent). Elders with dementia, compared to those without a diagnosis, were abused more often by persons known to them (family member, caregiver, or another nursing home resident) than a stranger, presented behavioral cues of distress rather than verbal disclosures, were easily confused and verbally manipulated, and were pressured into sex by the mere presence of the offender. One policy recommendation is to increase the detection of elder sexual abuse by training primary health care providers and home health care providers to identify the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in elderly patients. The ages of the 180 known offenders ranged from 13 to 90. The opportunistic and nonsadistic rapists committed sex offenses without penetration. The sadistic offenders characterized by pervasive anger committed the most severe sex offenses. The 77 convicted sex offenders generally planned the offense, did not bring a weapon, and were not violent. Data on the 284 cases pertained to victim and offender characteristics, offense characteristics, and case disposition. Data were entered into a specially designed measurement tool called the Comprehensive Sexual Assault Assessment Tool-Elder. A separate dataset of 77 cases of convicted sex offenders of elderly women was analyzed; 25 were interviewed in prison. Extensive tables and figures, appended study instrument, and 182 references