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Elder Sexual Abuse

What is Elder Sexual Abuse

The term Elder sexual abuse refers to any sexual behaviour without a person's full knowledge and/or consent such as: 

  • sexual assault,
  • sexual harassment,
  • use of pornography,
  • inappropriate sexual touching.

About the Victim

  • Older people who are victims of abuse know the people who hurt them. Many victims depend on their abusers for food, shelter, personal care, or companionship. 
  • Any older person, male or female, can be vulnerable to abuse. 
  • The greatest physical harm is often done to those in frail health. 
  • Most abused older people are isolated and dependent on others for their activities of daily living. 
  • Older people often do not take action against their abusers. Usually out of shame, embarrassment or fear of rejection and retaliation. 

About the Abuser 

  • Abusers can be of any age, sex, social class or culture. 
  • Abusers are typically persons who are in a care giving role to the older person and can be children, siblings, grand-children, in-laws, other relatives, friends, acquaintances or health care providers. 

Risk Factors of Abuse 

  • Abuse may be a consequence of the caregiver's personal problems; unemployment or failing personal relationships and drug and alcohol dependencies. 
  • Abuse may occur when caregivers feel resentment or suffer from exhaustion from caring for an older person. 
  • When there is a relationship where one person is dependent and the other person is in the helping or care giving role, there is the potential for abuse, due to a power imbalance. 
  • Although stress is recognized as a factor which might increase the risk of abuse, it is important to remember that stress alone is not the reason people abuse. 

If you are being abused or if you think someone else is being abused, tell the police. Also consider accessing advice or assistance from school agencies and professionals. 

Information adapted from Envision Counselling Center