Stopping and Addressing Sexual Violence In opposition to Folks with I/DD

To shut Sexual Assault Consciousness Month (SAAM), we’re sharing this letter from Alison Barkoff, who leads ACL, Jeff Hild, who leads the Administration for Kids and Households, and Admiral Rachel Levine, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, which was written to enhance assist for folks with mental and/or developmental disabilities who expertise sexual violence – and to stop IT from occurring.

The letter and the checklist of suggestions IT references had been despatched to HHS-funded applications, together with rape disaster facilities, behavioral Health applications, violence in opposition to ladies Health program initiatives, and people who serve folks with I/DD and are actually posted on ACL’s website (as a mixed PDF).

Expensive Colleague,

April is Sexual Assault Consciousness Month (SAAM) and a time to resume our dedication to stopping sexual assault and supporting those that have been victimized.

This April, the Administration for Community Living, the Workplace of the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the Administration for Children and Families are issuing this informational memo about sexual violence in opposition to individuals with mental and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This letter goals to lift consciousness of the disparities folks with I/DD expertise that may put them at higher danger for sexual assault and offers steering and sources that assist advocates and different care suppliers acknowledge sexual violence and enhance providers for survivors.

Based on the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, over half of ladies and virtually a 3rd of males have or will expertise a type of undesirable sexual contact of their lifetimes. Whereas statistics fluctuate, the next prevalence of sexual violence in opposition to individuals with disabilities is well-documented, and an estimated 2 in 5 female victims of rape are reported to have a incapacity on the time of assault. A latest examine from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine discovered that girls with I/DD expertise roughly double the proportion of sexual violence skilled by nondisabled ladies, and that the prevalence of bodily violence is roughly thrice greater for ladies with cognitive disabilities and 4 occasions greater for ladies with a number of disabilities when in comparison with nondisabled ladies. Equally, men with disabilities are extra possible than males with out disabilities to expertise sexual violence of their lifetime, together with tried or accomplished nonconsensual intercourse.

The affect of sexual violence is distressing for anybody. Nonetheless, as a result of folks with I/DD expertise a variety of extra disparities (e.g., Health, financial, academic, social) and face boundaries in accessing providers and helps, together with these for survivors of sexual violence, the experience may be that much more traumatic.

Folks with I/DD could also be scared to come back ahead about sexual violence, particularly if perpetrated by a caretaker or authority determine, as a result of IT may result in damaging penalties associated to accessing the care that helps their impartial dwelling. People with I/DD might not be believed once they make a report or disclose sexual assault due to incorrect assumptions others made about their capabilities. People with I/DD and people with communication disabilities might have hassle understanding or conveying what is occurring to them and could also be unable to obviously talk non-consent. Folks with I/DD additionally usually don’t obtain any intercourse training and, in the event that they do, IT will be insufficient. Consequently, folks with I/DD might have difficulties recognizing that they’re being abused, and subsequently might not report IT when IT occurs.

Survivors with I/DD might face extra challenges receiving disaster assist providers as a result of many service suppliers lack ample coaching on supporting victims with I/DD, together with coaching on survivor-informed care. Consequently, they don’t have the Information and information wanted to plan for serving a various inhabitants with accessibility wants. For instance, rape disaster facilities might not have accessible buildings or providers, resembling having sufferer advocates who can successfully assist folks with I/DD with totally different communication wants. With out correct planning and protocols in place, they might not know how one can assist victims with I/DD reporting abuse.

Sexual Assault Consciousness Month challenges public Health and human providers professionals to each mirror on these boundaries to care and recommits us to our obligation to ship a lifeline to all who want IT, together with folks with I/DD. HHS applications and the Division’s grant recipients are sometimes the primary stops for people in want of help. HHS funded organizations embody rape disaster facilities, home violence organizations, Facilities for Unbiased Dwelling, Safety and Advocacy Programs, College Facilities for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, and Group Remedy and Service Facilities, all of which offer vital sources that assist victims with I/DD to steer their healthiest and fullest lives.

Constructing and sustaining collaborations between the federal authorities and nationwide and state networks that work on these points is vital to enhancing particular person and population-level outcomes. We advocate that Health and human providers professionals enhance their capability to serve survivors with I/DD by:

  • Constructing relationships between home violence applications, sexual assault applications, tribes, culturally particular organizations and incapacity organizations to facilitate collaboration and coaching;
  • Studying what works for prevention of sexual assault and home violence;
  • Offering technical help to make sure applications are compliant with related incapacity legal guidelines and greatest practices in sexual violence response providers;
  • Growing advocacy and case administration protocols that guarantee designated employees can be found to help survivors with I/DD each time doable;
  • Growing trauma-informed services and providers for individuals with disabilities; and
  • Involving survivors with lived expertise in designing providers to fulfill their wants.

We’re happy to share an inventory of sexual violence prevention and response sources, a few of that are particular to people with disabilities, to assist your organizations construct these vital collaborations and be taught extra about this subject. We’ve got organized these sources by advice.

We encourage you to make the most of these sources and suggestions to begin conversations inside your organizations about this vital subject.

Thanks for all that you simply do to assist victims of sexual violence and individuals with I/DD not simply this month, however all year long.


Alison Barkoff
Administration for Group Dwelling

Jeff Hild
Administration for Kids and Households

Admiral Rachel Levine 
Assistant Secretary for Health

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top