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The Gerontologist 44:788-796 (2004)
© 2004 The Gerontological Society of America

Sexual Abuse of Older Adults: APS Cases and Outcomes

Pamela B. Teaster, PhD1 and Karen A. Roberto, PhD2

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Pamela B. Teaster, PhD, Gerontology and Public Health, 306 Health Sciences Building, 900 S. Limestone, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536-0200. E-mail: pteaster{at}

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop a profile of sexual abuse cases among adults aged 60 and older receiving attention from Adult Protective Services units in Virginia over a 5-year period. Design and Methods: We used bivariate analysis to characterize older adults (n = 82) experiencing sexual abuse and the circumstances of the abuse. We used multiple correspondence analysis, a multivariate method, to explore relationships between characteristics of the older adults and the type of sexual abuse experienced. Results: Most victims of sexual abuse were women, between the ages of 70 and 89, residing in a nursing home. Typically, sexual abuse involved instances of sexualized kissing and fondling and unwelcome sexual interest in the person's body. The majority of perpetrators were nursing home residents who were 60 years of age and older. In most situations, witnesses to the sexual abuse were facility residents. Implications: Orientation affects the invasiveness of the sexual abuse experienced by older adults. Our data reveal a small but persistent number of cases identifying individuals who are especially vulnerable to this form of abuse. These findings establish a baseline for future research and set the stage for further examination in both domestic and institutional settings as well as possible interventions and staff training.

Key Words: Sexual abuse • Older men • Older women • Adult Protective Services • Nursing homes

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Copyright © 2004 by The Gerontological Society of America.