If You Are Older and Have Been the Victim of Sexual Violence

You have a right to be safe at all stages of your 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 forced 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, such as adult children.

If You Are a Victim

Your immediate safety is important. Go to a safe place or contact a safe person such as a family member or friend you can trust. Remember that rape and sexual assault are serious violent crimes. They are crimes that could happen to anyone. No matter the circumstances, the assault or action was not your fault. You are not alone.

Get support. The community-based sexual assault advocacy programs listed in this brochure provide free and confidential support and advocacy for you and your family or friends (see phone number list). Advocates are trained to be with you at the hospital, go with you to the police station, provide individual and group counseling, and provide you with specific information about sexual violence. Getting in touch with the community-based sexual assault advocacy program can provide you with the support and assistance in the safety and healing process. These programs offer services 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Services can 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. Any information shared with an advocacy program 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.

You may want to consider a sexual assault forensic exam. The purpose of a sexual assault forensic exam is to collect evidence for a potential criminal case and to provide a victim with a medical exam after a sexual assault. You have the right to receive an exam after a sexual assault. You do not have to submit to an exam against your will. You do not have to report to law enforcement to receive the exam. However, health care providers are required to report abuse of adults who cannot look out for their own interests to the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). You should talk with a sexual assault advocate for more information about sexual assault forensic exams in your community (see phone number list).

Protect your health. You may have a range of health concerns as a result of the sexual violence. You may want to seek medical care to address any health-related concerns. A community-based sexual assault advocate will be able to help you discuss your options and access medical care.

It is your choice to report or to not report the sexual violence. Depending on the type of sexual violence you have experienced, you may consider reporting to law enforcement, a health care provider or other person. Many factors may weigh into your decision to report or not to report. There is no right way to handle the effects of sexual violence. If you decide to report the violence to someone, it is important to explore the potential effects of the report on your safety, privacy, housing, care taking, social support, and all other areas of your life. A community-based sexual assault advocate will be able to more fully help you understand the process of reporting in your area and to support you through it. If you decide not to report to anyone, you are still fully entitled to advocacy services and medical care.

REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Sexual violence is a crisis, and we all handle crises in different ways. The emotional reaction to sexual violence is complex and often confusing. Remember that your feelings and experience are not unusual. You are not alone.

For more information about services and resources for older adults in Kansas, visit: www.kdads.ks.gov

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

KANSAS CRISIS HOTLINE: 888-END-ABUSE | 888-363-2287