Sexual Violence Against Older Adults

We have a right to be safe at all stages of our life.

Developed by Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence

Sexual Violence in Later Life

Sexual violence can affect individuals across the lifespan. Sexual violence includes sexual actions and words that coerce, manipulate or are force upon someone with the intent to intimidate, humiliate or control. Sexual violence can include unwanted touching or fondling; forced sexual contact; rape; humiliating or objectifying the victim's body; forcing the victim to engage in unwanted sex; sexualized kissing; sexual harassment and threats; forced viewing of pornography; using the victim to produce pornography; exhibitionism or exposing the victim's body as a form of humiliation. An additional form of sexual violence is the unnecessary, obsessive or painful touching of the genital area that is not part of a prescribed care plan (Ramsey-Klawsnik, 2010). Many victims of sexual violence have survived multiple victimizations over the course of their lives (NSVRC, 2010).

As with any form of sexual violence, it is important to remember that it can occur to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or ability. However, most identified older victims of sexual violence are female (Burgess, Ramsey-Klawsnik, & Gregorian, 2008). Sexual violence in later life is often perpetrated by those who have special and trusted relationships with the older adult. These relationships often include caregivers, intimate partners, fellow residents, and family members, including adult children.

Signs of Sexual Violence

Victims of sexual violence may show a wide range of signs or no signs at all. No one victim will have the same reaction following a sexual assault, rape or unwanted sexual contact. However, due to age-related changes in the body, victims who are older tend to suffer more serious physical injuries during an assault than younger victims. The emotional and social effects of sexual violence may also greatly impact someone who is victimized later in life.

Here are a few possible signs of sexual violence that has occurred in later life. These may also be signs of other health issues, as well.

  • Genital injuries, human bite marks, imprint injuries or bruising on thighs, buttocks, breast, face, neck, and other areas
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
  • HIV/Aids
  • Fear, anxiety, agitation, mistrust or dramatic changes in behavior
  • Trouble sleeping, incontinence, lack of appetite or difficulty remembering things when previously able to do so
  • Eyewitness reports or disclosures of the sexual violence
  • Observing suspicious behavior of perpetrators by others (Ramsey-Klawsnik, 2010)

Barriers to Reporting

Reporting a sexual assault is very difficult?for anyone. Sexual violence is highly underreported across the lifespan. Here are a few examples of the many barriers victims may encounter when reporting sexual violence, especially if the violence occurs in later life.

  • Social stigma, related to discussing sexual activities or sexual violence
  • Disabling conditions that interfere with disclosing or making reports
  • Fear of further harm from the perpetrator
  • Reluctance to report, especially if the perpetrator is a family member or caregiver
  • Misinterpretation by others that a disclosure is part of dementia or age-related memory problem
  • Attributing physical injuries and marks as ?normal? markings on an older body (Burgess & Clements, 2008)
  • Lack of specific services for older victims of sexual violence

If A Person You Know Is A Victim of Sexual Violence

Listen and Believe - Listen without judgment, believe what the victim tells you, and acknowledge feelings. Confusion, anger, sadness, guilt, numbness, helplessness, hopelessness, and self-blame are all common reactions to sexual violence and trauma.

Offer Your Support - Let the victim know you are there for support now and in the future. Keep the victim?s information private unless the victim tells you otherwise.

Make a Referral - Refer to the Kansas Crisis Hotline, 1-888-END-ABUSE (1-888-363-2287), and the community-based sexual assault advocacy program in your area (see phone number list).

Speak Out - Speak out when you hear someone blaming any victim for the violence. Remind others that the responsibility for the violence lies with the perpetrator and that nobody deserves to be sexually violated, regardless of the victim?s age or medical condition.

Advocacy Support Services

Getting in touch with the community-based sexual assault advocacy program can provide a victim of sexual violence with the support and assistance they need for the safety and healing process. These programs offer services 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Services include crisis hotlines, safety planning, information and referrals, personal advocacy, criminal justice advocacy, civil court advocacy, hospital and medical advocacy, support groups, assistance with crime victims' compensation, assistance with protection orders, and more. Victims can access these resources anonymously.

All of these services are free and confidential. Any information shared with an advocacy program listed in this brochure is private and cannot be shared with anyone outside the organization, unless:

  • The program is required to disclose the information by law; or
  • The victim signs an informed, written, time-limited release permitting them to disclose the information.

For support, contact the sexual assault advocacy program nearest you (see phone number list).

For more information about services and resources for older adults in Kansas, visit:

For support, contact one of the following:

The sexual and domestic violence program nearest you (see list and map below)

Kansas Crisis Hotline

National Sexual Assault Hotline

Kansas Sexual and Domestic Violence Program Map

Programs are listed below alphabetically by city with their HOTLINE phone numbers. The numbers on the map correspond to the programs listed. Call the program nearest you. You do not have to live in the city where the program is located to use their services.

image map image map image map Image Map

DV = domestic violence services provided
SA = sexual assault services provided

1. Atchison DV/SA DoVES 800-367-7075 or 913-367-0363 Back to map
2. Dodge City DV/SA Crisis Center of Dodge City 620-225-6510 Back to map
3. El Dorado DV/SA Family Life Center of Butler County 800-870-6967 or 316-321-7104 Back to map
4. Emporia DV/SA SOS, Inc. 800-825-1295 or 620-342-1870 Back to map
5. Garden City DV/SA Family Crisis Services 800-275-0535 or 620-275-5911 Back to map
6. Great Bend DV/SA Family Crisis Center 866-792-1885 or 620-792-1885 Back to map
7. Hays DV/SA Options: Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Inc. 800-794-4624 or 785-625-3055 Back to map
8. Hutchinson DV/SA Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Center 800-701-3630 or 620-663-2522 Back to map
9. Iola DV/SA Hope Unlimited 620-365-7566 Back to map
10. Kansas City - Wyandotte Cnty DV Friends of Yates Joyce Williams Center 913-321-0951 Back to map
11. Kansas City - Johnson Cnty DV Safehome 888-432-4300 or 913-262-2868 Back to map
12. Kansas City DV El Centro, Inc. ¡Si Se Puede! 913-281-1186 Back to map
13. Kansas City DV/SA KCAVP 816-561-0550 Back to map
14. Kansas City SA MOCSA 816-531-0233 Back to map
15. Lawrence SA GaDuGi Safe Center 785-843-8985 Back to map
16. Lawrence DV The Willow Domestic Violence Center 800-770-3030 or 785-843-3333 Back to map
17. Leavenworth DV/SA Alliance Against Family Violence 800-644-1441 or 913-682-9131 Back to map
18. Liberal DV/SA LARC/DVS, Inc. 620-624-8818 Back to map
19. Manhattan DV/SA The Crisis Center, Inc. 800-727-2785 or 785-539-2785 Back to map
20. Mayetta DV/SA Prairie Band Potawatomi Family Violence Prevention Program 866-966-0173 or 785-966-8330 Back to map
21. Newton DV/SA Harvey County DV/SA Task Force 800-487-0510 or 316-283-0350 Back to map
22. Pittsburg DV/SA Safehouse Crisis Center, Inc. 800-794-9148 or 620-231-8251 Back to map
23. Salina DV/SA Domestic Violence Assoc. of Central Kansas 800-874-1499 or 785-827-5862 Back to map
24. Topeka DV/SA YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment 888-822-2983 or dia 785-354-7927 o tarde / fin de semana 785-234-3330 Back to map
25. Wichita DV Catholic Charities Harbor House 866-899-5522 or 316-263-6000 Back to map
26. Wichita DV StepStone 316-265-1611 Back to map
27. Wichita SA Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center 316-263-3002 Back to map
28. Wichita DV YWCA Women's Crisis Center 316-267-7233 Back to map
29. Winfield DV/SA Safe Homes, Inc. Safe Homes, Inc. is temporarily closed. Victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who are in need of advocacy services in Cowley, Chautauqua, Elk, and Sumner counties should call the 24/7 Kansas Crisis Hotline at 1-888-363-2287 to receive services by the surrounding advocacy programs. Back to map

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