Kentucky seeing increase in reports of sexual assault in long-te - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky seeing increase in reports of sexual assault in long-term care facilities

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Sherry Culp Sherry Culp

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- As Kentucky's top advocate for residents in long-term care, Sherry Culp fields dozens of calls every day.

But ever since she and her team developed the nation's first training program identifying sexual assault in long-term care facilities, reports of abuse have grown.

"We had a resident who was sexually assaulted. He was assaulted by a nurse aide," said Culp, Kentucky's Long Term Care Ombudsman. "We were working with a resident the other day who said that a nurse had come in to give her a suppository and instead had inserted her fingers into her vagina. Sometimes it's residents who assault other residents."

One in every 100 complaints is sexual assault, and while that may not seem like a lot, Culp said many assaults aren't reported for a number of reasons. Often the victims have dementia memory loss or illness, making them the perfect victim.

But Culp said there are signs.

"Evidence that someone has been physically restrained, maybe marks around their wrists, bruising marks and skin tears on the breast ... the genitals," Culp said.

Others signs are less obvious.

"They may push caregivers to be real reluctant to personal care, which involves changing them helping them toilet, things like that," Culp said.

So what can you do to protect your loved one? Do your research. Check the facility's health inspection reports, make frequent visits and stay involved.

"Families need to come right out and say, 'If there's anything wrong, you need to let me know,'" Culp said. "The naivety that it doesn't exist is part of the problem.

"It's happening."

Culp has already trained hundreds of advocates across the state. And next week, she's going to Washington, D.C., to train other workers from across the country.

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