Initial Hurdle:Initial Hurdle:UnderreportingUnderreporting
The initial hurdle to bringing a case of elder sexualassault to court is the underreporting of the crime.Research clearly indicates that the majority of elder sexual assault cases are not reported. Older victimsare highly unlikely to report the crime-much moreso than younger victims. Only one out of four casesof elder abuse is reported, and sexual abuse is believed to be the least reported type of elder victimization.
Reasons for underreporting, includeshame, fear, lack of knowledge, doubt andcognitive impairment. If an elder sexual abusecase is never brought to the attention of lawenforcement, there can be no prosecution.
The Reluctant WThe Reluctant Witnessitness
When elder sexual abuse is reported, the reporter isoften someone other than the victim: a friend or family member, a nurse who witnessed the abuse,or another health care professional who recognizedthe signs of rape through vaginal bleeding or other trauma. Victims may be apprehensive about pressing charges against the perpetrator. The elder victim may appear uncooperative because she doesnot trust the service provider. In the eyes of theelder victim the professional conducting theinterview, whether it is the district attorney,advocate or police officer, is a stranger with whomshe may feel uncomfortable discussing the detailsof sexual assault.