The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

August 8, 2012

Sexual assault against people with disabilities

By Jeannie Langston for the SNAP

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 — Most people aren’t aware that sexual assaults against people with physical, visual, mental or emotional disabilities are very common. This is because people who commit these assaults perceive people with disabilities as easy targets, and they do frequently get away with these crimes. The misconception abounds that people who use wheelchairs, or who may be mentally disabled, have no sexual feelings or even concern about such matters; therefore, it’s okay to take advantage of them. It’s also very possible that the victim knows the person who abused them. The abuser often has some role in their care. The victim may have even become disabled, or further disabled, because of the abuse.

Among adults who are developmentally disabled, as many as 83 percent of the females and 32 percent of the males are victims of sexual assault. In one study, 40 percent of women with physical disabilities report being sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is an act which violates a person’s trust or safety, and is sexual in nature. Sexual contact becomes abuse when the person is unable to consent to an activity, does not consent, or when a service provider engages in sexual activity with a client. Victims of sexual assault can be forced, coerced, or manipulated into participating in sexual activity. The lifetime risk for violent victimization is so high for homeless women with severe mental illness (97 percent) that it has become the norm for this population.

Esther House is dedicated to supporting the disabled who have been sexually assaulted. If you or someone you know needs help, call the 24 hour crisis line at (704) 961-7500.

Esther House is here because Stanly County cares about victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and we need your help and support to continue providing these services.

Send donations to Esther House, PO Box 734, Albemarle, NC 28002.