Increasing Support for Ohio Sexual Assault Survivors with Disabilities
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Ohio community groups seeking ways to increase support for sexual assault survivors living with disabilities. A January 23rd training session hosted by the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence will focus on how law enforcement, hospitals, and other institutions can provide equitable services.
Natasha Larson, director of training and member engagement with the Alliance explained it is common for perpetrators to be closely linked to their victims, and can often include family members or staff at a caregiving facility. She said people with disabilities are at higher risk for assault because their abuser can interfere with attempts to report it.
"They may tamper with things," Larson said, "like withholding any assistive technology that they have - mobility aids, communication devices - things that allow them to perform daily tasks."
A 2012 nationwide survey, the first of it's kind published by the Spectrum Institute, found more than one-third of respondents were victims of repeated sexual abuse. More information on the training is online at 'oaesv.org.'
Nicole Kass Colvin, manager of coordinated community responses with the Alliance, added society often views those with disabilities as asexual, and points out that people born with disabilities are less likely to be taught the proper names of body parts, or the definitions of sexual assault and consent.
"This leads to a lack of comprehensive sex education and consent education, which increases risk," she said.
Kass Colvin said Ohioans can help protect their loved ones with disabilities by advocating for increased accessibility in their communities and workplaces.
"When we are able to know ahead of time how to access or activate a trauma-informed qualified interpreter, or services that have accessible spaces, then we're better able to respond to those situations," she said.
Children with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to experience sexual violence, according to the World Health Organization.
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