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Physically and Developmentally Disabled
Victims of Sexual Abuse
People with disabilities are victimized by crime at higher rates than the rest of the population, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The term “disability,” as used by the Department of Justice in the NCVS, includes a wide range of limitations such as sensory (vision, hearing), cognitive, self-care, and ambulatory or mobility limitations.
According to RAINN "people with different disabilities may face different challenges and have very different needs. Some disabilities may put people at higher risk for crimes like sexual assault or abuse.
Someone who needs regular assistance may rely on a person who is abusing them for care, a common factor in elder abuse. The perpetrator may use this power to threaten, coerce, or force someone into non-consensual sex or sexual activities.
An abuser may take away access to the tools a person with a disability uses to communicate, such as a computer or phone.
People with disabilities may be less likely to be taken seriously when they make a report of sexual assault or abuse. They may also face challenges in accessing services to make a report in the first place. For example, someone who is Deaf for Deaf-Blind may face challenges accessing communication tools, like a phone, to report the crime or get help.
Many people with disabilities may not understand or lack information about healthy sexuality and the types of touching that are appropriate or inappropriate. This can be especially challenging if a person’s disability requires other people to touch them to provide care.
The Role of consent
Consent is crucial when any person engages in sexual activity, but it plays an even bigger, and potentially more complicated role when someone has a disability. Some disabilities may make it difficult to communicate consent to participate in sexual activity, and perpetrators may take advantage of this. People with disabilities may also not be given the same education about sexuality and consent that people without disabilities receive. In addition, someone who has a developmental or intellectual disability may not have the ability to consent to sexual activity, as defined by the state laws.
In many instances, the person who has a disability may rely on the perpetrator for care or support, making it even more difficult to come forward. Take steps to reduce the risk of something happening to a loved one by asking prospective caregivers questions about safety and standards of care.
If a caregiver has sexually abused you or your child call me today for a free consultation.