Sexual Violence and People With Disabilities

 

People with disabilities face a higher risk of sexual victimization than the general population. About one in six women and one in 21 men in West Virginia will be victims of sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault in their lifetimes. However, the rates are even higher for residents who have a disability ̶ 14% for those with a disability versus 9.6% for the rest of the population.

 

People with specific types of disabilities, such as physical, intellectual, developmental, severe mental illnesses, or who require caregivers are at an even higher-risk of becoming a victim.

 

The victim's fear of not being believed, possible retaliation by the offender, potential loss of their caregiver, or loss of personal independence keeps the number of reported cases of abuses low. These fears combined with situational factors like financial dependency, negative attitudes or lack of services get in the way of people with disabilities from getting help they need.

 

It is important to remember that a disability itself does not create the risk nor does it justify sexual violence. RDVIC is committed to helping people with disabilities reduce the risk of sexual violence, If you need assistance contact RDVIC at (304) 292-5100.

 

Risk factors for abuse of the disabled:

gender ̶ women face a higher risk

stigma

learned compliance

perceived lack of credibility

social isolation

lack of transportation

dependency

lack of control over personal affairs

communication barriers

poverty and lack of resources.

lack of knowledge about healthy relationships.

nature of the disability: caregiver, developmental, cognitive, physical

 

Resources for people with disabilities

Americans with Disabilities Act

WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED)

 

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