People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) face far greater rates of sexual violence than their non-disabled counterparts. Many of these instances of abuse go unreported, and the physical and psychological trauma that result, untreated. The Arc of the United States National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (NCCJD), through a grant from the WITH Foundation, is expanding their Talk About Sexual Violence (TASV) initiative to combat these injustices.
TASV is a platform for educating healthcare professionals on how to talk to their patients with I/DD about sexual violence. The WITH Foundation’s grant will expand the program’s current focus on women survivors to include resources about male survivors and the unique barriers they face in disclosing or reporting sexual violence. Much like their female counterparts, men with I/DD are at an increased risk of sexual violence. Research shows that 14% of men with disabilities will experience violent victimization compared to 4% of men without disabilities. Yet, across all groups men are less likely than women to report sexual assault. Men with I/DD, like women with I/DD face additional barriers to reporting, yet they are far less likely to be asked about sexual assault by their health care providers.
Health care professionals are uniquely positioned to educate, treat, and possibly prevent sexual violence within the I/DD community. TASV will work to educate and train health care professionals to speak directly with people with I/DD about this critical issue.
The initiative will have national reach though we are fortunate that its efforts are currently focused in California. TASV is currently looking to interview care providers, survivors, health care providers, and social workers to learn from them. Anyone interested in learning more about the project and giving their input can email Mark Starford, Director Board Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian McMahon, Communications Specialist, The Arc of California