People with disabilities and Sexual abuse is a serious concern as these individuals are twice as likely to experience Sexual assault and abuse than the general population.
Around 40 percent of woman with disabilities are Sexually assaulted or abused. An even higher amount of sexual assault is among those with developmental disabilities. Survivors with disabilities experience longer term sexual abuse and violence close to home. According to a study, around 33 percent of survivors with disabilities are abused by aquintences as well as family – 25 percent are caregivers and service providers.
Sexual abuse is prevalent among people with disabilities as they are taken care of by able bodied individuals who possess them. These predators choose people with disabilities as it’s not easy for them to get help after an assault has taken place.
Survivors with disabilities face the same barriers for getting help as able bodied people do. Unfortunately, society still looks down on and minimises those with disabilities – they have no voice.
Barriers that survivors with disabilities face are:
Those who abuse people with disabilities brainwash the victim into believing the abuse is acceptable and normal. Thus these people with disabilities grow up not knowing the difference between appropriate and innapropriate behaviour. They don’t experience what a healthy relationship is. The perpetrator will shower the victim with nice things from time to time which would confuse the survivor.
Survivors with disabilities may be socially or physically isolated. Their caregiver or family member will keep them inside and not allow any communication with others. This is one barrier that blocks many from getting help.
People with disabilities that use caregivers are at the highest risk of sexual assault. They rely solely on that person who can easily abuse their vulnerability. The survivor won’t speak out due to fear of being punished for it or a new caregiver being much worse than the last one.
Society doesn’t take people with disabilities seriously. Due to this many survivors will not bother reporting an incidence in fear of not being believed.
People with disabilities are put in a box labelled “non – sexual” so reporting sexual abuse may not be taken seriously.
Survivors who have communication difficulties will struggle with reporting sexual abuse or assault. Lack of access to assistive technology or an interpreter would prove to be futile when trying to disclose abuse case.
A survivor with disabilities may not have correct counselors with the correct training required for these cases. One other factor is getting to a counselor or their offices not being accessible if they have limited mobility.
If you know of a person with disabilities is being abused, please don’t turn a blind eye and contact the TEARS foundation ASAP.