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Sexual mistreatment

Non-consensual gestures, actions, words or attitudes with a sexual connotation, which are harmful to the person’s well-being, sexual integrity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Violence: Suggestive comments or attitudes, jokes or insults with a sexual connotation, homophobic, biphobic or transphobic comments, promiscuity, exhibitionist behaviours, sexual assault (unwanted touching, non-consensual sex), etc.

Neglect: Failure to provide privacy, failure to respect a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, treating older adults as asexual beings and/or preventing them from expressing their sexuality, etc.

Signs: Infections, genital wounds, anxiety when being examined or receiving care, mistrust, withdrawal, depression, sexual disinhibition, sudden use of highly sexualized language, denial of older adults’ sexuality, etc.

NB: Sexual assault is above all an act of domination. Cognitive impairment may lead to disinhibition, which can result in inappropriate sexual behaviour. Not recognizing older adults’ sexuality is a form of mistreatment, and it also makes it more difficult to identify and report sexual mistreatment. It is also important to keep an eye out for pathological sexual attraction toward older adults (gerontophilia).