“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"People with mental retardation & sexual abuse"

The following is from an article by Leigh Ann Reynolds entitled, "People with mental retardation & sexual abuse."
  • >90% of people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual abuse at some point in their lives
  • 49% will experience 10 or more abusive incidents
  • 36-68% of girls and 16-30% of boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birday
  • 15,000-19,000 people with developmental disabilities are raped each year in the United States
  • 97-99% of abusers are known and trusted by the victim
  • 32% of abusers were family members or acquaintances
  • 44% had a relationship with the victim specifically related to the person's disaiblity (such as residential care staff, transportation providers and personal care attendants)
  • Abusers typically abuse as many as 70 people before ever getting caught
The article defines sexual abuse fairly concisely such that the reader knows what the author is speaking about.

There are a variety of lessons from these statistics, not the least of which is that people who are facilitating disability ministry must be cognizant of interactions between persons with developmental/intellectual disabilities and the general public. We should be aware of situations at the church and other community settings as well as having a presence in the group homes and living situations of persons with disabilities. The article also lists physical signs, behavioral signs and circumstantial signs that people may look for. The article is concluded with the statement, "You do not need proof to file a report."

The church has a protective function to serve in the lives of persons with severe disabilities, however, we can only serve that function if we are involved in the lives of persons with severe disabilities. We need to be aware of the signs of abuse and not be afraid to ask questions of individuals with disabilities and their care providers should we have a concern. Ultimately we can report to the police if we believe something untoward is occuring in the life of a person with a severe disability.



Anonymous said...

Dear Jeff, I congratulate you for posting this blog. Not many people will touch this issue, and that is how the problem continues. As long as people are afraid to speak up, the perpetrator is free to find more victims. Like most sexual assault cases most victims know their attacker, whether it be a family member, friend, caretaker, clergy, etc. It would be so easy to stop if people were educated on sexual abuse. In the case of people who have a disablity,it is up to society to step up to the plate and make sure that people who are unable to take care of themselves are well-protected. Unfortunately, the people who do this go right for the target. They seek out those who they "believe" are helpless or naive and cannot take care of themselves, that is where your next blog comes in. If society treated those with disabilities as adults and not children it would send out the message that it is not okay, anytime or anywhere with anyone.
Wouldn't it be great to do something like this for those with mental retardation? Read on:
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Location: Los Angeles County, California
Details:Peace Over Violence and RAINN are proud to present the 10th Annual Denim Day in LA 2008, a campaign to raise awareness and educate the public about rape and sexual assault. It takes place on Wednesday April 23, 2008.

In 1998, an Italian Supreme Court decision overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore jeans. People all over the world were outraged. Wearing jeans became an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. Last year, on Denim Day an unprecedented 300,000 people signed up to wear jeans in support of raising awareness about the need to end sexual violence. This year we aim to at least double that amount.

This day in the schools, offices and streets of Los Angeles County we unite against rape of girls, women, boys and men. We stand in support of survivors. We break the silence to end sexual violence.

On Denim Day in LA wear your jeans as a visible sign of protest against the myths that still surround sexual assault!

Anonymous said...

Have you yet seen the UNICEF report on Violence Against Disabled Children? More information here, along with a link to where you can download the report itself:


Given your obvious familiarity with abuse toward people with disabilities there probably won't be much in this report that will surprise you. But I thought you might want to read it for yourself in case you learn any new nuances from it.

I found your post through the blogging carnival on abuse and disability at Ettina's AbnormalDiversity blog.

Anonymous said...

This is a very hard topic to discuss. One major reason is that people look past it and don't think that it realy happens. The statistics are outrageous.The stattistics show that it happens more than I could ever imagine.
This article helps give insight n the topic. We as christians should be aware of situations at the church and other community settings as well as having a presence in the group homes and living situations of persons with disabilities. This article shows the facts on physical damage. Overall I think that this is a great topic to get out into the open for many people to see.

Anonymous said...

This topic is a very serious topic that needs to be out in the open and needs to be stopped. Most people don't know that sexual abuse upon the mentally retardedhappens. The mentally retarded are a very easy target and need to be stop being abused. The statistics are very scary and terrifying. Most of the cases that deal with sexual harrassment the victims knows the suspect. That fact makes it an even worse crime.

Anonymous said...

This information is so heart breaking.The statistics are overwhelming and would lead me to believe that there are many mentally retarded individuals who are probably being sexually abused that we never even know about.The Church should step in to help these individuals who have been or are being abused.Individuals with mental retardation should be taught how to speak up and if possible learn what inapropriate behavior entails.I didn't realize until reading this article, how much abuse goes on.As a Christian I feel a responsiblity to all individuals on this planet.If I ever knew of any handicapped person being abused, I would immediately report it to the authorities.There are so many cruel and hateful people in this world and it is so unfortunate that they pray on helpless individuals.It would be so valuable if there was a way we could teach mentally retarded individuals how to protect themself against such horrible predators.There should be strict consequences to a person who sexually abuses a mentally challenged person.
There should be a support system for the individuals who have been sexually abused.These people should be given counseling.These services could be provided through our Churches.People in general, should learn the signs of sexual abuse and protect individual with disabilities.In addition, as a society we should always look out for the well being of other human beings especially ones who can't protect themselves.
This topic is so rarely ever spoken about in society.I think there are many normal functioning human beings who know nothing about the abuse that goes on with individuals with mental retardation.