People who commit sexual offenses often seek out potential victims who they perceive as easy to overpower and manipulate. They look for those who would be unlikely to report the assault and who would not be deemed credible if the assault were reported.
Older adults are at risk for sexual violence because they do not fit the “image” of a victim of sexual assault, and elder sexual assault is one of Pennsylvania’s most hidden crimes. Unfortunately, while elder victims may require more assistance and specialized help, they often receive less services and intervention than younger victims for a number of reasons.
In some cases, people of advanced age need others to provide basic necessities and assistance with daily functions. These circumstances increase one’s risk of sexual abuse; elders are often victimized by those assisting them or those closest to them. Reduced cognitive or emotional functioning may also render older people more susceptible to sexual assault. Even for adults in later life, the social stigma of old age makes them an easier target for abuse and more likely to remain silent if victimized.