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Sexual Assault of Older Women and Men: The Tip of the Iceberg. Madeleine Hollitt Monash University MBBS Year 2 Community Based Practice Program SECASA East Bentleigh. Scope of the issue (Part 1). Assault of elderly individuals Assault within the community
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Monash University MBBS Year 2 Community Based Practice Program
SECASA East Bentleigh
256 cases of alleged sexual assault in residential care facilities reported to DHS in the 2009-2010 year (mandatory reporting)
Older victims less likely to report and the older the victim, the less likely that the offender will be prosecuted
Older victims most often females over age 70 that are partially or totally dependent on a caregiver
Majority of victims have some degree of psychological (most common) or physical impairment
Older victims suffer more genital (and physical) trauma from sexual assault than younger victims
Sexual assault of older people usually occurs within the context of other forms of abuse (implications for detection)
Offenders are less likely to be prosecuted if the offence took place in an assisted living situations
A US study found that over half of older victims of sexual assault died within one year of an assault due to trauma
3 sheets: Victims, family and friends and carers/residential care workers
Define sexual assault and focus on detection and response
Suggested techniques for encouraging and responding to a disclosure
Outline available services and resources both internal and external to SECASA
Reduce background noise
Begin conversations with casual topics or interests
Try not to change topic too often
Keep sentences and questions short where possible
Allow extra time for responding
Use open ended questions, but if they are struggling to make a decision, try presenting them with options
They may use euphemisms or may have different definitions of terms – important to clarify
Witnesses or carers may need to be involved if there is memory or sensory loss
Always reassure them that you believe what they are saying – Fear of being labelled ‘senile’ or ‘demented’
Consider the role of music therapy in clients with severe cognitive impairment (has been shown to be beneficial in studies)
Group counselling: Older people tend to have both positive and negative reactions depending on personal qualities
Different language: May not be comfortable with anatomical terms, etc.
May believe it is a woman’s responsibility to deny a man’s advances
Spousal rape: It would have been legal for an 80 year old woman’s husband to assault her until she was in her 50s.
Only strangers can be offenders
May believe that only women are assaulted: Older male victims may experience more psychological trauma due to traditional gender role
Pennsylvania has an Older Adult Protective Services Act: Adults over age 60
Interdisciplinary education: Encouraged collaboration and awareness of all stages of responding to an assault
Advisory council comprising different professionals consulted in developing curriculum
Brought increased awareness and led to more research