8. What to do in cases of suspected abuse
If you are concerned that you, your partner, or someone you know is at risk of any form of abuse, whether emotional or physical, it is important to share these concerns. Sexual abuse is a criminal offence, and in cases of abuse the local authority or police may need to intervene. While some cases of sexual abuse can involve a degree of violence or force, it can also take the form of making a person watch or participate in activities, such as watching pornography. Talk to a professional such as your GP or a community nurse if you are concerned. Initially, you may find it helpful to talk in confidence to Alzheimer's Society's National Dementia Helpline or Action on Elder Abuse (see 'Other useful organisations').
If you do decide to talk to professionals about information concerning the sex life of someone with dementia or their partner, you must respect the dignity and privacy of both parties. The professionals involved need to consider whether both parties are:
- comfortable in the relationship
- not being exploited or being taken advantage of
- acting in a way that is in keeping with their values
- willing and able to consent to the relationship