Facts on physical and sexual abuse of seniors

Learn the signs

Physical abuse of seniors includes the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Physical abuse is often assault. Physical abuse may include:

  • striking
  • hitting
  • pushing
  • shaking
  • burning
  • shoving

Sexual abuse of seniors is sexual touching or sexual activity if the other person does not consent. Signs of possible physical or sexual abuse may include:

  • unexplained depression, fear or paranoia
  • discomfort or anxiety in the presence of particular people
  • unexplained visible burns, scratches, bruises, cuts or swellings
  • vague or illogical explanations for injuries

Protect yourself

Staying informed and knowing your rights can help you protect yourself. Abuse happens when one person hurts or mistreats another. Remember:

  • Seniors are entitled to respect.
  • Seniors have a right to live free from physical and sexual abuse.
  • Seniors have every right to live in safety and security.
  • There is no excuse for abuse.

Reach out

If you think you are experiencing any form of elder abuse, ask for help. This may include support and assistance from family members or friends, caregiver, health care providers, social services, seniors’ centres, police, legal professionals and/or members of faith communities.

Additional fact sheets

For more information and a list of resources in your province or territory, call 1-800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) or visit Canada.ca/Seniors.

Information contained in this fact sheet is sourced from the Public Health Agency of Canada, National Clearing House on Family Violence website. Note that these are not legal definitions but are intended to help people working with older adults to recognize abuse of seniors.

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