There is an epidemic of sexual abuse against people with intellectual disabilities. In a 2018 NPR study, people with intellectual disabilities – women and men – were found to be the victims of sexual assault at rates more than 7 times higher than for people without disabilities. Among women with intellectual disabilities, the rate of sexual assault is 12 times higher than the rate for persons with no disabilities. The only other group more victimized than people with disabilities are – women between the ages of 18 and 24 who are not in college. Compared with women with disabilities they have an almost identical rate of assault – just slightly higher.
The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities defines intellectual disability as “characterized by significant limitation in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviors” Those adaptive behaviors include social skills – such as the ability to deal with other people, to follow rules and avoid being victimized – and practical skills, things like being able to work and take of one’s health and safety.
The Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act compiles annual reports and researches crimes against individuals with disabilities. These reports show that people with intellectual disabilities are vulnerable everywhere: where they live, work, go to school, ride in vans for medical appointments and in public places. Most of the time, the perpetrators are people they count on the most. Also, they are subject to assault by other people with intellectual disabilities with whom they share living space.