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Evaluation and Management of the
Sexually Assaulted or Sexually Abused Patient
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106 Evaluation and Management of the Sexually Assaulted or Sexually Abused Patient | ACEP
Chapter 21
Special Populations
Heather V. Rozzi, MD, FACEP
Elderly Victims
Difficult to estimate incidence
— underreporting
 dependence upon caregiver
 sense of loyalty or allegiance to perpetrator
 lack of opportunity to report
 fear of retaliation
— varying definitions of “elder” in research
— alterations in mental status
Although elder mistreatment is more likely to occur in a home setting, sexual abuse of the elderly is more likely
to occur in an institutional setting.
Approximately 1% of substantiated elder abuse cases involve sexual assault.
Special Considerations
Elderly female victims of sexual assault are more likely to sustain injury as a result of decreased estrogen levels.
Bruising often incorrectly attributed to aging process, medications, or to injuries sustained during routine care.
Memory impairment may hinder reporting, cooperation with investigation, and getting appropriate follow up.
Hearing impairment and physical limitations may make the medical forensic examination somewhat challenging.
Victims with Physical and Cognitive Disabilities
Children with disabilities are 3.7 times more likely than non-disabled children to be victims of any sort of violence,
3.6 times more likely to be victims of physical violence, and 2.9 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence.
Children with mental or intellectual impairments appear to be among the most vulnerable, with 4.6 times the risk
of sexual violence than their non-disabled peers.
Adults with disabilities are 1.5 times more likely to be victims of violence than those without a disability.
Adults with mental health conditions are at nearly four times the risk of experiencing violence.
Developmental disability increases risk of sexual assault 4–10 times above rest of population; perpetrators most
often caretakers.
Special Considerations
In cases of cognitive disability, there may be issues regarding consent.
For hearing impaired patients, use interpreters with experience regarding sexual violence.
In cases of physical disability, ask what assistance a patient may require during the examination, and provide
assistance only with permission.
Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Victims
Little is known about the incidence of sexual violence in the LGBT population.
Approximately 1 in 8 lesbians (13.1%), nearly half of bisexual women (46.1%), and 1 in 6 heterosexual women
(17.4%) have been raped in their lifetime.
Special Populations