Sexual Abuse Victims with Disability
It is not unusual for children and youth with disabilities to be labeled as having "behaviour problems", being "difficult", "developmentally challenged", "mentally retarded", "mentally handicapped", or having "psychiatric problems".
FACT: The Canadian Institute of Child Health Survey, conducted in 1996-97, revealed that there were 564,575 children and youth with disability or 7.7% of the Canadian child/youth population. Male children from birth to 9 years of age had the highest rate of disability at 10%. Approximately one-third of all children have some degree of cognitive deficits and learning disability (Canadian Institute of Child Health, 2002, p.11).
The table below reflects attitudes, myths and stereotypes that make children and youth with disabilities vulnerable to sexual abuse.
Additional Vulnerability Factors:
Need for personal care: people with certain physical disabilities require someone to bathe them and help them using the toilet. They have little control over who touches their bodies, and in what manner.
Isolation: often times, children with disability are isolated from the rest of the community, which increases the likelihood that sexual abuse will take place, and it also increases the likelihood that the abuse will go undetected.
Physical defencelessness: physical, visual and hearing disabilities limit the child/youth from being able to physically protect him/herself.
Language, speech or vocabulary barriers: disabled children and youth may have difficulty protesting to offenders, asking for help, or disclosing abuse, which in turn puts sexual abuse victims with disability at risk for further sexual abuse.
Impaired or limited cognitive abilities: young people with intellectual disability may not understand an abusive situation and are more easily swayed and otherwise manipulated.
Lack of abuse prevention education: lack of information makes it difficult for children with disability to understand and recognize abusive situations.
Unprotective organizational structures and policies: organizational institutions that don't have adequate screening of staff and volunteers, that have rigid routines, have a high child/youth-to-staff ratio, and lack clear abuse guidelines and policies put people with disability at greater risk for abuse.
Sexual Abuse Victims With Disability Statistics:
For girls with developmental disability, the average estimate for sexual abuse victimization was 1.5 times higher than the general population rate; for boys with developmental disability, the rate was roughly double (McCreary Centre Society, 1993, p. 94).
83% of women with disability will become sexual abuse victims with disability in their lifetime (Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities, 20025).
One hundred sixty sex-related incidents were reported at the Washington State School for the Deaf between September 1998 and February 2001. At least 100 other incidents including rapes, attempted rapes, and dozen of molestations were reported (Seattle Post Intelligencer, 20026).
|Sexual Abuse Victims||Male Victims|
|Female Victims||Victims with Disability|
|Sexual Abuse Disclosures|
|Sexual Abuse||Sexual Abuse Victims|
|Sexual Abuse Definition||Male Victims|
|Sexual Abuse Signs||Female Victims|
|Sexual Abuse Effects||Victims with Disability|
|Sexual Abuse Statistics||Sexual Abuse Disclosures|
|Abuse Headlines||History of Abuse|
|Sexual Abuse Signs||Child Abuse Stats|
|Sexual Abuse Effects||Emotional Abuse|
|Sexual Abuse Stats||Emotional Abuse Types|
|Sexual Abuse Victims||Emotional Abuse Signs|
|Male Victims||Emotional Abuse Effects|
|Victims w/ Disability||Emotional Abuse Stats|
|Sexual Abuse Disclosures||Physical Abuse|
|Sex Offenders||Physical Abuse Signs|
|Male Sex Offenders||Abuse & Discipline|
|Female Sex Offenders||Physical Abuse Effects|
|Child Sex Offenders||Physical Abuse Stats|
|Adolescent Sex Offenders||Child Neglect|
|Incestuous Sex Offenders||Child Neglect Signs|
|Internet Sex Offenders||Child Neglect Effects|
|Child Abuse Law||Child Neglect Stats|
|Age of Majority||Poverty & Neglect|
|Duty to Report||Sexual Abuse|
|Abuse Intervention||Sexual Abuse Defined|
Sexual Abuse Victims with Disability
NOTE: Information pages on this site were based on material from the Canadian Red Cross RespectED Training Program. Written permission was obtained to use their copyrighted material on this site.
1 Canadian Institute of Child Health. (2002). The health of Canada's children: A CICH profile. Retrieved November, 2002, from http://www.cich.ca/disabilities.htm
2 McCreary Centre Society. (1993). Sexual abuse and young people with disabilities project: Summary report. Vancouver: McCreary Centre Society.
3 Mencap. (2002). New bill to challenge sex abuse. Retrieved December, 2002, from http:www.mencap.org.uk/html/news/sex_abuse_queens_speech.htm
4 McCreary Centre Society. (1993). Sexual abuse and young people with disabilities project: Summary report. Vancouver: McCreary Centre Society.
5 Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities. (2002, November 28). Family violence in the disabled community. Paper presented at the family violence conference "Diverse Voices Bridging Troubled Waters" in Edmonton, Alberta.
6 Seattle Post Intelligencer. (n.d.). Sex abuse plagues schools for the deaf nationwide. Retrieved November, 2002, from http://www.seattlepi.nwsource.com/specials/deafschool/