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Coping with sexual assault in a hospital


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Sexual assault is something that most people think of as confined to back alleys, bars, isolated streets at night — not the supposed safety of a hospital room.

Yet, sexual assault and rape can occur all-too-easily in a hospital setting — especially when the victim is physically incapacitated or suffering from dementia from age or illness.

Sexual assault and rape victims are often assumed to be young and attractive. In movies and on television, the victims are usually young women (or, occasionally, young men) and not someone who is elderly. Yet, the reality is that sexual assault and rape victims can be any age. One out of every five women and one out of 71 men will endure rape at some point in their lives — many of them when they are older and less able to defend themselves.

The reality is that the people who participate in these types of crimes are looking for victims who can be easily controlled or intimidated. That makes hospital patients a prime target for this type of abuse. Add to that the fact that nobody questions why a nurse or aide is in a patient’s room at any hour of the day or night and you have the perfect set-up for a covert assault. If the patient is suffering from psychosis, dementia or even drug-induced hallucinations, their statements are likely to be unbelieved even if they report the assault.

If you or your loved one suffered sexual abuse or rape at a hospital, we understand how difficult it can be to step forward and talk about what happened. But speaking up could prevent someone else from suffering the same fate. Contact our office or explore our website to learn more about how we may be able to help you in this troubled time.

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