Sexual assaults against individuals with physical, visual, mental or emotional disabilities are very common. People who commit these assaults perceive people with disabilities as easy targets. People who commit these crimes are often family members, caretakers or family friends who repeat their abuse because their victims are not able to report the crimes against them.
Strangers may also target individuals who have developmental and physical disabilities and live alone. They are less able to physically defend themselves, less able to hear a perpetrator enter the home and less likely to have anyone in the home to interrupt the assault. Individuals who are mentally challenged have an added vulnerability to assaults because they are so trusting of others.
Those with disabilities will experience many of the same feelings as other survivors. It is not uncommon for the assault to increase their feelings of helplessness. Seeking emotional support and other assistance from local agencies that advocate for persons with disabilities is recommended. It is not uncommon for family and friends of the survivor to become overprotective and limit the survivor’s ability to live independently.
When medical personnel treat a survivor who is mentally, physically or developmentally challenged, medical personnel are mandated to report the assault to a law enforcement agency. Referrals to specialized support services are available and necessary for those who may need protection, physical assistance and transportation for follow-up treatment and counseling.
If you need help or have questions, please call the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault 24 Hour Hotline: (540) 371-1666