Men with disabilities are twice as likely as those without disabilities to experience sexual violence. Yet few people know just how common it is, including health care professionals. On top of that, men with disabilities may not know about the different types of sexual violence they could experience, how to talk about it with their doctor, how to report it to authorities, or how to access healing services like counseling. The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability and The Board Resource Center are excited to announce new resources to address this silent epidemic.
Health care professionals are in a frontline position to educate patients with disabilities about sexual violence and how to report it, yet they generally have little or no experience talking about it. Supported by the WITH Foundation, the project is releasing new training videos and other valuable online resources to give health care professionals the practical tools they need to have simple, direct, and honest conversations about sexual violence with male patients who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Survivors need to talk things out. We need a safe place to tell things and be heard. Listen to us, hear us, believe us. Let us talk about it as long as we need to. Let us be brave with you. We are getting out the pain, one conversation at a time.”
– James Meadours, National Peer Advocate & Survivor
On Monday August 19, 2019 the First Annual Convening was held to develop a national vision to address sexual abuses against persons with disabilities. The Convening brought together stakeholders from various disciplines – disability services, advocacy groups, social services, adult protective services, law enforcement, health care providers as well as state and federal agencies – to take part in a national conversation about sexual abuse of people with disabilities. The conversation was framed by the following goals to:
- Address the complexities of sexual abuse against persons with disabilities
- Discuss strategies to prevent, identify and support sexual assault victims with disabilities
- Learn about trauma-informed care and innovative Peer Support practices
- Generate ideas on how to move trauma-informed care forward
- Hear about promising practices
- Join self-advocates in developing a national network to address sexual violence
From the Convening leaders within the collaborative effort intend on developing a White Paper informed by the many great presenters, presentations and conversations with the conference attendees. The Convening was provided through a partnership between National Peer Support Leaders, Building Partnerships for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities Initiative (BPI), MA Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC), Board Resource Center (BRC) and the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA).
Sexual abuse rates against persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities are seven times greater compared to the general population according to the Department of Justice. Both victims and service providers have recognized the lack of service provision for sexual assault victims with disabilities and providers’ lack of comfort in working with sexual assault victims with disabilities as gaps in the system. This convening is an important step toward developing a national strategy to increase awareness of the high rate if victimization, identify preventive measures, build and share best practices in supporting survivors with I/DD through trauma-informed care and, most important, to empower and support people with I/DD in developing a national network to address issues of sexual violence. We look forward to the White Paper and will share it with the community when it is published.