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What goes around comes around

Corpus Christi, TX – Investigators say a man died while in the act of raping an elderly South Texas woman, The Associated Press reported. The Refugio County Sheriff’s Office identified the man as 53-year-old Isabel Chavelo Gutierrez. Sheriff’s Sgt. Gary Wright says the incident happened June 2 after the man rode two miles by bicycle from his home to that of his 77-year-old victim in the tiny coastal community of Tivoli. The man, weighing between 230 and 250 pounds, sneaked into the woman’s house and raped her at knife point.

During the attack, the assailant said he wasn’t feeling well, rolled over and died. His body was sent to the Nueces County medical examiner in Corpus Christi for autopsy. Gutierrez was a registered sexual offender on parole from a sentence for aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child. Gutierrez had been released from prison in 2008. (Justice prevails). See the News Video Here.

There are no figures for the numbers of sexual attacks on the elderly because many time they do not categorize rape statistics by age. We may imagine that the rape of elderly women is a rare, horrible and peculiarly unnatural crime, but it is not. Looking at newspaper cuttings covering the past two or three years, it becomes clear that the rape of older women is not only commonplace but that the number of reported incidents are increasing.

What are we to make of it? Here are women not young, not sexually desirable by society’s norms, beyond the menopause, still being considered fair game by rapists. What do the experts say – the psychologists, the specialists in the treatment of sex offenders, rape counsellors, Victim Support, national charities that promote the interests of older people? Nothing.

From what I see there is no research, there are no studies of the after-effects of rape among elderly women. Despite the large amount of literature on date rape, there is almost nothing on the rape of older women.

As one American study on the treatment of rape victims, published way back in 1991, admits: “The sexual assault of older women has received little attention in the rape literature. As a result there is paucity of information on the incidence and characteristics of sexual victimization of the elderly and of the resulting psychological effects.”

Okay, I get it; Rape in general is bad, but the rape of the elderly should merit more attention because it is a particularly violent crime. Between 60 and 70 per cent of all reported rapes are acquaintance rape, where the attacker is known to the victim. But the rapes of elderly women usually follow a scenario where a young man forcibly enters the woman’s home, threatens or carries out physical violence, steals money or jewellery and leaves her where she may not be found for hours, or even days if she lives alone. 

For the victim, the physical assault can be especially devastating. Many women now in their seventies and eighties are likely to have had only one sexual partner throughout their lives, and those who are widowed may not have had any sexual contact for many years.

All in all, rape of an elderly woman is appalling and I believe, worthy of specialized attention.


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