Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Disability and Abuse - the Latest Findings, and How You Can Protect Your Loved Ones

Last week I re-posted Down Syndrome and the Alarming Statistics of Abuse.  The statistics I quoted were from an unknown source and were most likely flawed, but the point was more about what you can do about it - how you can help to protect your loved ones, and help them to learn to protect themselves.  In my post on Facebook, I received a link to something far more valuable: 

An up-to-date survey on the abuse of people with disabilities.

When I say "up-to-date," I don't mean something only slightly more recent than, say, 1968, as we so often find in the outdated tomes and journals we generally have access to, or which get passed around like the telephone game, becoming even far less accurate through the re-telling than the original source material itself.

When I say "up-to-date," I refer to a survey of 7,289 people (including people with disabilities and care-givers) that was conducted between May and October of 2012 by Nora Baladerian, Ph.D., and released just last month, on September 5th, 2013. 

Some of those that clicked on the link to the survey commented on that FB post that they were unable to read it, that the data hit home and upset them that the risks are so great for our children and loved ones with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  No doubt they refer, in part, to the revelations that:

     *over 70% of people with disabilities (including 62.5% of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities) reported they'd been victims of abuse
     *41.6% of people with disabilities (including 34.2% of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities) reported they'd been victims of sexual abuse

Throughout the 45 pages of the survey there is data giving the bleak truth of abuse for people with disabilities, including *prevalence of abuse, *types of abuse, *frequency of abuse, *disability types of victims, *reporting of abuse, *reasons for not reporting, *outcomes of reporting, *prevalence of bullying (64.3% of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities reported having been bullied), *getting therapy, *victim/witness programs, and *how and why.  It's mind-boggling, and almost enough to send even the most stalwart advocate cowering into a corner, afraid of just what might come next.

Well, my reaction to the survey was far different than theirs.

Throughout the 45 pages of the survey there are enlightening facts and figures that make me feel POWERFUL in the fight against abuse. 

There is so, SO much more than those bleak numbers, those facts of what has already occurred.  I choose to see what can be done in the future.  There is information in the report on *how to reduce the risk of abuse, *how to improve reporting of abuse, *information on how to improve the prosecution of abuse, *comments by experts in the field of disability, *comments by survey respondents (including why they believe there's such a lack of reporting), and a *guide for parents on responding to suspected abuse.

It is highly recommended within the survey that we, as parents or care-givers, read and implement Dr. Baladerian's new book on risk reduction, A Risk Reduction Workbook for Parents and Service Providers, available through the website, DisabilityAndAbuse.  Also available through that website is a book called The Rules of Sex, recommended for people with intellectual disabilities and their parents.  I'll be checking them out, for sure.

This is important stuff, folks.  Read the uncomfortable details, get past the fear and the pain of learning what's been done to others, and empower yourselves and your loved ones with disabilities to reduce the incidence of victimization and abuse.  The 45 pages are all worth the read.  Pass this along, share it, get the information out there.  It's the only way to see these numbers go down.

Remember:  Abuse is more likely to happen when three factors are present: 

                                           POWER (of one person over another)
                                           VULNERABILITY and
                                                                     ~from Jim Stream's introductory note, p.iii

Print out this report and arm yourself with knowledge, protect your loved ones.  We can't afford not to.


Leah said...

Wow, Becca. I will be checking those out too. Thank you!

Lisa said...

Becca - Thank you so much for addressing this in your posts. It is so hard to hear and I'm sure to research that it would be easier to say "I'll deal with it when she is older". Thanks to your last post we have had an appropriate affection talk before each non-family event with both our girls > kiss=only family, hugs=only friends you that know their names, everyone else=high fives, tell mommy if anyone hugs or tickles you that isn't family or if someone tells you to hug/kiss anyone. So easy to do along with our rules discussions but I hope in the long run it should make the discussion more natural as it turns to sexual & bullying topics.

tekeal said...

thank you so much for this. i really appreciate your research and persistence in passing it on and willing to face the hard truths. hug!