Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves any non-consensual sexual act or activity perpetrated against an older person.

Sexual abuse

Such acts can include rape or attempted rape, sexual assault, involving an older person in making or viewing sexual imagery against their wishes, indecent exposure, inappropriate sexual harassment, sexual teasing, innuendo, or non-consensual masturbation.

Sexual abuse of older people is rarely discussed, but it’s a wide-spread reality.

Despite the lack of research into this often-hidden form of abuse, studies suggest that:

  • Rape is the most common sexual offence committed against older people

  • Sexual abuse of older people is primarily committed against women

  • Most perpetrators are known to the victim


The vast majority of incidents occur in the victim’s home, with 1 in 5 cases taking place in residential homes.*

*According to research by British Journal of Criminology

If it’s happening to you, a loved one or someone you know help is on hand to take positive steps.

Visit Hourglass for further help and support

Signs of sexual abuse

  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area

  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections

  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding

  • Difficulty in walking or standing

  • Sudden or dramatic changes in behaviour

  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing

  • An older person telling you they have been sexually assaulted or raped

If you suspect either you or a loved one is a victim of sexual abuse:

  • Ring 999 and make immediate contact with the emergency services

  • Do not wash the older person or their clothing

Taking steps to stop abuse

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Spotting the signs of abuse

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Other types of abuse

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