Health and Residential Care Providers: Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

Sexual assault occurs in health care facilities more often than many are aware or are willing to believe. A Systematic Review of Sexual Assaults in Nursing Homes study highlighted a gap in knowledge regarding sexual assaults in nursing homes and demonstrates a need for better staff training in detecting, examining, and managing sexual assaults in health care facilities and congregate living settings.

According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Quality Care Issue Brief (PDF), sexual abuse can take on many forms and includes:

  • Unwanted intimate touching of any kind, especially to breasts or genital area;
  • Rape, oral, or anal sex;
  • Forced nudity;
  • Forced observation of masturbation and/or pornography; and
  • Taking sexually explicit photographs or audio/video recordings of a resident and distributing them online or in-person. This includes pictures or recordings of residents that are not fully clothed while they are being cared for (bathing, dressing, etc.).

Wisconsin Stat. § 940.225 defines sexual assault.

The reporting requirement and resources listed below are intended for providers, surveyors and other interested parties, for the prevention of a sexual assault and response to a sexual assault allegation for those living in health care facilities and congregate living settings.

Reporting Requirements


Adult-At-Risk, Including Elder Adult-At-Risk Reporting Requirements For DQA-Regulated Entities, P-01214 (PDF) provides information to ensure entities regulated by the Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) understand their responsibility to report both allegations of caregiver misconduct and other incidents involving adults-at-risk.

Assisted Living Facilities

Reporting Requirements for Assisted Living Facilities, P-02007 (PDF) assists providers in determining when statutes and codes require them to notify the Department of Health Services of certain incidents.

Nursing Homes

Nursing Home Reporting Requirements for Alleged Incidents of Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Misappropriation, P-00981 (PDF) provides direction to nursing homes on how to report alleged incidents of alleged mistreatment, abuse, exploitation, and neglect of residents, misappropriation of resident property, and injuries of unknown source to DQA.


Law Enforcement – Call 911

Call when there is an allegation of sexual assault.

Adult Protective Services

Adult protective services are set up to aid elder adults and adults-at-risk who have been abused, neglected, or exploited.

Board on Aging and Long Term Care (BOALTC) – Ombudsman

The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program provides advocacy services to persons age 60 and older who are consumers of Wisconsin long-term care programs. A long-term care ombudsman protects and promotes the rights of long-term care consumers, working with the consumers and their families to achieve their expected quality of care and quality of life.

Department of Health Services

The Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) is responsible for assuring the safety, welfare and health of persons using health and community care provider services in Wisconsin.

  • Office of Caregiver Quality (OCQ) has primary responsibility for receiving, screening and investigating allegations of caregiver misconduct and maintaining the Wisconsin Caregiver Misconduct Registry.

Sexual Violence Prevention information and resources.

Department of Justice (DOJ)

DOJ exists to protect public safety and to serve the Wisconsin residents and is led by the Wisconsin Attorney General. DOJ provides assistance through its Office of Crime Victim Services that is available to help victims of sexual assault and houses many resources and programs for crime victims, family and friends, and professionals in the victim service field.

Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW)

DRW is the designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency for Wisconsin and is part of a nation-wide network of P&A agencies that serve people across the spectrum of disabilities to protect against abuse, neglect, or wrongdoing, and to enforce the rights of people with disabilities.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)

SANE are registered nurses who have completed specialized education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of the patient who has experienced sexual assault or abuse.

For regulations regarding patient rights for victims of sexual assault, see Wisconsin Act 351 and Wis. Stat. 50.375. Hospitals may opt to use the Patient Rights For Victims, F-01805 (PDF) ensure patient rights are being met, or review Guidelines for Victim Advocate Accompaniment During Hospital Exams and Consultations, P-01580 (PDF) for additional information.

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault

WCASA is a statewide membership agency comprised of its staff, board, volunteers, and 55 sexual assault service provider agencies, dedicated to support and complement the work of Wisconsin’s community-based sexual assault service provider programs and other organizations working to end sexual violence.

Contact Us

For any questions regarding information related to an allegation of sexual assault occurring in a Wisconsin regulated health care facility, contact Julia Lehman Caldwell.

Last Revised: June 15, 2022