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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Stopping and Addressing Sexual Violence In opposition to Folks with I/DD

To shut Sexual Assault Consciousness Month (SAAM), we’re sharing this letter from Alison Barkoff, who leads ACL, Jeff Hild, who leads the Administration for Youngsters and Households, and Admiral Rachel Levine, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Well being, which was written to enhance assist for folks with mental and/or developmental disabilities who expertise sexual violence – and to stop it from occurring.

The letter and the record of suggestions it references have been despatched to HHS-funded applications, together with rape disaster facilities, behavioral well being applications, violence towards ladies well being program initiatives, and people who serve folks with I/DD and are actually posted on ACL’s web site (as a mixed PDF).

Expensive Colleague,

April is Sexual Assault Consciousness Month (SAAM) and a time to resume our dedication to stopping sexual assault and supporting those that have been victimized.

This April, the Administration for Group Residing, the Workplace of the Assistant Secretary for Well being, and the Administration for Youngsters and Households are issuing this informational memo about sexual violence towards individuals with mental and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This letter goals to boost consciousness of the disparities folks with I/DD expertise that may put them at larger threat for sexual assault and supplies steerage and assets that assist advocates and different care suppliers acknowledge sexual violence and enhance companies for survivors.

In line with the CDC’s Nationwide Intimate Associate and Sexual Violence Survey, over half of ladies and nearly a 3rd of males have or will expertise a type of undesirable sexual contact of their lifetimes. Whereas statistics fluctuate, the next prevalence of sexual violence towards individuals with disabilities is well-documented, and an estimated 2 in 5 feminine victims of rape are reported to have a incapacity on the time of assault. A latest research from the American Journal of Preventive Medication discovered that girls with I/DD expertise roughly double the proportion of sexual violence skilled by nondisabled ladies, and that the prevalence of bodily violence is roughly 3 times larger for ladies with cognitive disabilities and 4 instances larger for ladies with a number of disabilities when in comparison with nondisabled ladies. Equally, males with disabilities are extra seemingly than males with out disabilities to expertise sexual violence of their lifetime, together with tried or accomplished nonconsensual intercourse.

The impression of sexual violence is distressing for anybody. Nonetheless, as a result of folks with I/DD expertise a variety of extra disparities (e.g., well being, financial, instructional, social) and face boundaries in accessing companies and helps, together with these for survivors of sexual violence, the expertise could also be that rather more traumatic.

Folks with I/DD could also be scared to return ahead about sexual violence, particularly if perpetrated by a caretaker or authority determine, as a result of it may result in unfavourable penalties associated to accessing the care that helps their impartial dwelling. People with I/DD will not be believed once they make a report or disclose sexual assault due to incorrect assumptions others made about their capabilities. People with I/DD and people with communication disabilities could have bother understanding or conveying what is occurring to them and could also be unable to obviously talk non-consent. Folks with I/DD additionally usually don’t obtain any intercourse training and, in the event that they do, it may be insufficient. Consequently, folks with I/DD could have difficulties recognizing that they’re being abused, and due to this fact could not report it when it occurs.

Survivors with I/DD could face extra challenges receiving disaster assist companies as a result of many service suppliers lack enough coaching on supporting victims with I/DD, together with coaching on survivor-informed care. Consequently, they don’t have the data and data wanted to plan for serving a various inhabitants with accessibility wants. For instance, rape disaster facilities could not have accessible buildings or companies, akin to having sufferer advocates who can successfully assist folks with I/DD with totally different communication wants. With out correct planning and protocols in place, they might not know how you can assist victims with I/DD reporting abuse.

Sexual Assault Consciousness Month challenges public well being and human companies professionals to each mirror on these boundaries to care and recommits us to our obligation to ship a lifeline to all who want it, together with folks with I/DD. HHS applications and the Division’s grant recipients are sometimes the primary stops for people in want of help. HHS funded organizations embody rape disaster facilities, home violence organizations, Facilities for Unbiased Residing, Safety and Advocacy Techniques, College Facilities for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, and Group Remedy and Service Facilities, all of which give important assets that assist victims with I/DD to steer their healthiest and fullest lives.

Constructing and sustaining collaborations between the federal authorities and nationwide and state networks that work on these points is important to bettering particular person and population-level outcomes. We suggest that well being and human companies professionals enhance their capability to serve survivors with I/DD by:

  • Constructing relationships between home violence applications, sexual assault applications, tribes, culturally particular organizations and incapacity organizations to facilitate collaboration and coaching;
  • Studying what works for prevention of sexual assault and home violence;
  • Offering technical help to make sure applications are compliant with related incapacity legal guidelines and greatest practices in sexual violence response companies;
  • Growing advocacy and case administration protocols that guarantee designated workers can be found to help survivors with I/DD every time attainable;
  • Growing trauma-informed amenities and companies for individuals with disabilities; and
  • Involving survivors with lived expertise in designing companies to satisfy their wants.

We’re happy to share a listing of sexual violence prevention and response assets, a few of that are particular to people with disabilities, to assist your organizations construct these important collaborations and be taught extra about this challenge. We’ve got organized these assets by advice.

We encourage you to make the most of these assets and proposals to start out conversations inside your organizations about this important challenge.

Thanks for all that you simply do to assist victims of sexual violence and individuals with I/DD not simply this month, however all year long.


Alison Barkoff
Administration for Group Residing

Jeff Hild
Administration for Youngsters and Households

Admiral Rachel Levine 
Assistant Secretary for Well being

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