Sexual Assault: Silent Epidemic

sexual assault

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Sexual assault is a silent epidemic in the disabled community.  However, no one wants to talk openly about the sexual abuse of individuals with disabilities.

Statistics are on my side.  I am a man.  I live on my own, however, I have always been under the watchful eyes of my parents. Also, I have wonderful caregivers who look out for my well-being.  Fortunately, I have never experienced a sexual assault or abuse.  However, so many in my disabled community have not been as lucky.  This blog is for them.  I want to recognize and acknowledge what happened to them and bring awareness to help prevent future victims.

Alarming Statistics

  1. 25% of all sexual abuse cases of individuals with intellectual disabilities are at the hands of a caregiver.

  2. 33% of all sexual abuse cases of individuals with intellectual disabilities are at the hands of a relative.

  3. Only 3% of all sexual assaults of individuals with disabilities are at the hands of a stranger.

  4. Deaf and hard of hearing females are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than the average woman.

  5. 80% of all disabled women have experienced some form of sexual abuse.

  6. 30% of all disabled men have experiences some form of sexual abuse.

  7. Individuals with disabilities in general are 3.5 times more likely than the general population to be the victims of violence or a sexual assault.

  8. Only 3% of sexual assaults of individuals with disabilities are reported.

These statistics are disturbing.  Individuals with disabilities can easily be isolated and abused.  Many do not have access to help or even a phone.  Non-verbal individuals can be the most vulnerable as they can not communicate the abuse they are experiencing.


Signs/symptoms

There are many different signs and symptoms of sexual abuse.  Some are physical.  Additionally, change in behavior can also be a symptom.  No one wants to believe that their loved ones are being abused or are the abuser.  However, if the signs are there, reporting is the only way to stop the abuse and get help for the victim.

Physical Signs of Sexual Abuse

  1. Bruising and pain in genital and anal area

  2. Signs of physical abuse

  3. Headaches and stomach aches

  4. STD’s

  5. Pregnancy

Behavioral Signs of Sexual Abuse

  1. Depression, crying spells and withdrawal

  2. Substance abuse

  3. Avoiding a specific place or person or showing distress in the presence of a certain person

  4. Changes in sleep and/or appetite

  5. Sexually inappropriate behavior

  6. Panic and anxiety attacks

  7. Change in moods or habits

  8. Self-abuse or self-destructive behavior

  9. Resist examination

  10. Suicide attempts

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of possible abuse.  If there is any concern or suspicion, a report needs to be made immediately.  Additionally, seek out support to prevent future abuses.


Prevention

Sometimes a parent or caregiver can take all the precautions and abuse still occurs.  However, being diligent can reduce the risk factors.  Parents and caregiver need to be aware of changes in behavior.

Additionally, talking openly and providing a safe, trusting environment will allow individuals with disabilities to feel comfortable in reporting incidences.  Above all, isolation of an individual with disabilities is the most dangerous risk factor, so physically be present in their life!

For more prevention tips Click Here


Reporting and Aftercare

  1. Contact local police department and file a report.

  2. Contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

  3. Visit trusted physician and document physical evidence.

  4. Seek out counseling.

Until Next Time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’

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