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Regional Center Staff
This Months Featured Article

April Question of the Month

Why are persons with developmental disabilities more likely to be abused or assaulted than peers without developmental disabilities?

There are studies that estimate 83% of women and 32% of men with developmental disabilities will experience some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. Research also indicates that this abuse is rarely from strangers. It is usually a family member, care giver or other familiar person.

The following list of vulnerabilities is excerpted from an article provided by Safe Place ASAP:

  • Persons with disabilities may depend upon others for personal care that could lead to opportunities for abusive acts. A lack of defensive or escape skills may compound the situation.
  • The communication skills of some individuals may pose barriers to reporting instances of abuse, neglect or assault. The abuser may believe that he/she is safe from being reported due to the communication level of their victim.
  • Some communication devices do not include an adequate vocabulary for reporting abuse.
  • Individuals with developmental disabilities may have been taught to be passive and compliant with the wishes of others. They may never have learned that they have the right to say no and establish boundaries.
  • A lack of accessible transportation or housing may be a factor in staying in an abusive situation.
  • Some individuals with developmental disabilities may remain socially isolated without a strong support network. Lack of access to telephones, family or advocates leaves the individual vulnerable to victimization.

What can be done?

Knowledge is the key to prevention. Abuse prevention education for individuals with disabilities and for their families, care givers and concerned members of their community will reduce the instances of abuse and will allow for appropriate reporting and management of the situation.


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