5 Truths about Sexual Abuse and Disabilities You need to Know

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you can feel like you aren’t always noticed or seen. As a survivor with disabilities, you may feel absolutely invisible. Here at The Younique Foundation, WE SEE YOU. Too often survivors with disabilities are overlooked and under-represented. Below are 5 truths you should know, whether you are a survivor, a caretaker, or a supporter.

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    Children with disabilities are more likely to be sexually abused.

    No matter what form the disability takes, whether it is physical, intellectual, etc., a child who has one or more of these challenges is more vulnerable to be sexually abused.

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    Survivors with disabilities are more likely to be sexually abused again.

    It’s known as re-perpetration, and if you were taken advantage of before, you are more vulnerable to being sexually abused again.

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    Survivors with disabilities are less likely to disclose their abuse.

    Whether because you are unable, not understood, or simply not listened to, too often the abuse goes unrecognized – not just as a child, but even into adulthood.

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    The signs of abuse may go unnoticed in a survivor with disabilities.

    If there is any sort of communication barrier between you and the people you trust, signs of sexual abuse may be misinterpreted. Children with disabilities who have been abused may throw tantrums, withdraw, or change their behavior in some extreme way. Unless sexual abuse is considered, these behaviors – essentially cries for help – will be misinterpreted.

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    A survivor with disabilities CAN find healing.

    No matter what you’ve suffered, you CAN heal. There are resources available to you, including the items on our own resources page, as well as programs, therapists, and support groups. Look around in your area to see what works best for you. You deserve to heal, and we know you can do it! Click here for our resources.

The healing journey for a survivor with disabilities may involve different resources than a survivor without disabilities. Depending on the type of disability, you may need to find allies in caretakers, doctors, friends, and family. If you are a caretaker or a supporter of a survivor with disabilities, you can empower them, help them, and support them as they progress on their healing journey. If you are a survivor with a disability, we see you, we love you, and we know that you deserve to heal.

Sources cited:

  • Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. (2017). Final Report – Preface and Executive Summary.
  • Butler, A. C. (2013). Child sexual assault: Risk factors for girls. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37(9), 643–652. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.06.009
  • Putnam, F. W. (2001). Ten-Year Research Update Review: Child Sexual Abuse. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 42(3), 269–278. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.CHI.0000037029.04952.72
  • Sullivan, P. M., & Knutson, J. F. (2000). Maltreatment and disabilities: A population-based epidemiological study. Child Abuse and Neglect, 24(10), 1257–1273. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0145-2134(00)00190-3