April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault and violence disproportionately affect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), with findings from NPR revealing that people with IDD are assaulted at seven times the rate of people without disabilities. The first step to tackling this epidemic is talking about it.
Read more from one survivor:
“Get involved. Help people with disabilities learn about safe relationships and prevention of sexual assault. Special attention must be provided at peer advocacy meetings to teach people how to support survivors when they report the abuse and create their own safety plans. There are many ways people with disabilities can be supportive. A few ideas include volunteering to be a listener on a hot line, educating school teachers about the frequency of abuse against students with disabilities and most important, learning more yourself about the alarming rate of sexual and other kinds of assault happening to men and women with disabilities.”
During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, join us in the movement to Talk About Sexual Violence! And, sign up for our criminal justice emails to receive resources, timely news, and ideas on how to advocate and get involved throughout the year.
Our Call to Action
Recommendations for Schools and Students
- Provide age-appropriate sex education for students with disabilities.
- Discuss safe vs. unsafe relationships.
- Identify who to report a sexual assault incident to.
- Ensure a personal safety plan is included in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
Recommendations for Individuals
- Reach out to a trusted person if you have experienced sexual assault.
- Learn about your rights as a crime victim and what can happen if you report.
- Locate and attend sexual assault support groups.
- If you are interviewed by law enforcement, request privacy.
- Know your rights about your accommodation needs.
Recommendations for Disability Service Providers
- Require sexual trauma training for providers.
- Demand deeper background checks for all employees.
- Listen and believe when someone discloses sexual assault.
- Provide accommodations when a person reports an incident.
- Ensure privacy when a person reports sexual violence.
Recommendations for Criminal Justice Professionals
- Required training for first responders, law enforcement, the courts, and sexual assault and rape crisis professionals about serving crime victims with IDD.
- Learn effective strategies for interviewing crime victims with disabilities.
- Use disability specific accommodations.
- Consider community outreach to reduce fear of talking with law enforcement.