The 2018 National Sexual Assault Conference was held in Anaheim and we were fortunate, thanks to the wonderful support from Sandra Henriquez and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Cal CASA), to be given the opportunity to do a 90-minute workshop at the conference specific to sexual violence perpetrated against people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc/UCP CA Collaboration presented information about the high rate of sexual violence that is perpetrated against people with I/DD, risk factors, barriers to accessing victim services, gaps in services, the need for collaboration and above all the importance of including people with I/DD in the conversation about how best to meet their needs as they relate to victim services. Julie Neward, President of Natalie’s Voice, shared her story as a family member of a sexual assault survivor and the trauma her sister and her family have gone through. I want to extend my gratitude to Kecia Weller and James Meadours for their courageous advocacy because we did play their videos for the workshop attendees and they were very moved by the message both Kecia and James shared.
The biggest takeaway from the conference was the NEED to collaborate and strengthen the multisector approach to addressing sexual violence in our community. I look forward to following up with all the wonderful people we met at the conference and learning what resources are available as well as educating other stakeholders about the needs of people with I/DD and how we can truly make all victim services accessible for people with a wide range of disability.
Huge thank you to all that attended the workshop and Cal CASA for the opportunity to be there!
Teresa Anderson, Policy Director, The Arc & UCP Collaboration