We are hard at work in this first year of our project. We’re already learning so much about this important topic. We want to share some of our early findings with you.
Prevention Focuses on Sexuality Education
Sexuality Education is used most often to prevent sexual assault of people with IDD. These programs might focus on healthy sexuality, understanding boundaries, and learning how to keep our bodies safe. These programs are important and can be very helpful. But they don’t focus on the perpetrators–the people doing the assaults. And often, people shy away from sexuality issues. This puts people with IDD more at risk.
Group Housing Is a Big Risk Factor
Group housing can include anything from a state supported living center (SSLC) to an informal home where roommates share space. Sexual assault happens at higher rates in group housing. But assaults are less likely to be reported. When they are reported, staff are less likely to involve police. This often leads to a cycle that keeps the perpetrators safe and continuing to commit assaults/abuse.
Adjudication and Survivor Support Get Little Attention
Most studies, programs, and resources focus on prevention and reporting. Yet, adjudication (making sure perpetrators are tried and convicted) is very important too. Abusers who do not receive consequences usually continue to assault/abuse.
Also, little is being done to support sexual assault survivors with IDD. We know that healing trauma is difficult but critical. More needs to be done to provide survivors with a clear recovery plan and the resources to make it happen.
We are excited to be able to bring light to this dark topic. We will publish our complete gap analysis framework in May of 2021. We will then begin working on resources to help fill those gaps.
Comment below to let us know what you think is most important in supporting people with IDD!