U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Forensic Markers in Elder Female Sexual Abuse Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2005
14 pages
This article summarizes experts’ synthesis of concepts essential for constructing a national database on elder female sexual abuse cases.
The essential data categories recommended are mechanisms and patterns of injury in elderly sexual abuse cases; forensic evidence; the characteristics and behavior patterns of perpetrators; the characteristics and patterns of victim behavior; the criminal justice process; and outcomes in elder sexual abuse cases. The article first discusses the prevalence estimates of rape by age group based on data from various studies. The article concludes that older victims (over 55 years old) are less likely to report sexual victimization to the police due to embarrassment, humiliation, and self-blame, as well as dominant cultural views that the elderly are asexual. Rape victims in all age groups, however, experience similar short-term and long-term effects of sexual victimization, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and physical problems. Select studies of sexually victimized older adults are reviewed in the article’s second section. This is followed by a report on the article’s featured study by a working group of experts that consisted of a retrospective analysis of 125 cases of elder sexual abuse. Study results pertain to victim characteristics and behavior patterns, mechanisms of injury, injury patterns, forensic examination, offender characteristics and behavior patterns, and criminal justice process and outcomes. Findings from this study will be used to educate health care professionals about elder sexual abuse, with attention to early detection. Policy implications are drawn for monitoring and protecting elderly persons, which includes criminal background checks on staff who care for elderly residents in nursing homes or who provide services in the homes of elderly people. 6 tables and 26 references
Date Published: January 1, 2005