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J Elder Abuse Negl. 2005;17(3):1-18.

Comparisons of sexual assault among older and younger women.

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University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5T 1R8, Canada.


This study examined the nature and extent of coercion, violence, and physical injury among older victims of sexual assaults (55 years and older) and compared these with the sexual assault victims of mid-age (31-54 years) and younger women (15-30 years). The results of this investigation reveal that older victims of sexual assault are more likely to be living alone at the time of the attack. In addition, older victims of sexual assault tended to report higher rates of vulnerabilities such as psychiatric and cognitive disabilities than did younger female victims. In contrast to younger victims, elder sexual assault victims are also more likely to be assaulted in their own home and one-quarter of older victims require ambulance involvement. Although the use of weapons was most likely in the sexual assaults of younger women, the use of physical violence and restraint was common and equally likely among all three groups. Similarly, vaginal penetration and the presence of physical trauma were just as likely in elder victims as in younger victims of sexual assault. These results reveal new information about the nature and extent of violence and coercion in elder female sexual assaults. The vulnerability of the older victims illustrated in this investigation raises a number of research questions about these women's prior history of victimization and future safety.


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