Tag Archives: sexual assault

Recommended Reading for Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

Chantal Petitclerc and Warren Spires, two people wearing 'right to play' shirts and sitting next to what appears to be an ice skating rink. One of the people, Chantal, is in a wheelchair.

Warren Spires is the president of Right to Play Canada, and the organizer of the Right to Play charity Skate. Chantal Petitclerc is a disabled athlete, one of Right to Play’s ambassadors. (Photo by Flickr user NailaJ, Creative Commons License)

RMJ at Deeply Problematic: Reminder: Disability Carnival!

The original due date was yesterday, but I’m going to extend my call for submissions to the day of the carnival, Thursday July 29, at 9 am EST!

Amy Cohen Efron at Deaf World As Eye See It: HR3101 Passed Unanimously!

As of 3:35pm – A tweet from Pratik Patel (@ppatel) who is a New York entrepreneur, running a business, working at University, and a passionate advocate for the blind and other causes, with a huge announcement!

This is fantastic. #HR3101 passes with a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives.

UNANIMOUS???? No opposing vote? It is voice vote that was passed today at the House of Representative with no one opposing. Not even one “nay” been voiced! Pratik Patel witnessed it on C-SPAN channel today at around 3:35pm.

(HR 3101 is the Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, designed to make communications more accessible for people with disabilities! Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to get this bill passed.)

Lisa Factora-Borchers at My Ecdysis: Dear Sister Anthology

Call For Submission

Dear Sister is an anthology of letters and other works created for survivors of sexual violence from other survivors and allies. It is a collection of hope and strength through words and art.

Kathji Wolfe at The Washington Blade: Get to know a queer crip (via Media dis&dat)

One in five Americans (51.2 million) has a disability and from three to five million people are LGBTQ and have disabilities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. I am one of many who are disabled in the queer community. We are of all races, classes, ages, genders and occupations. Reclaiming the pejorative terms “queer” and “cripple,” increasing numbers of us proudly call ourselves “queer crips.”

Yet our presence isn’t well known or always welcomed in the LGBTQ community. Many places (from bars to shops) and events (such as conferences) in the queer community aren’t accessible to folks with disabilities. My friend, Hugh Gallagher, used a wheelchair. Gallagher, the author of “FDR’s Splendid Deception,” worked on Capitol Hill. “I can only get into one gay bar [in Washington, D.C.],” he told me in 2004, the year he died.

NASA: Astronaut Caldwell Dyson Sends Sign Language Message From Space Station (via @MarleeMatlin, be advised, there’s a bit of patronisation)

The International Space Station has had guests from all over the world, representing myriad languages. But until NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson came aboard, one language was still not represented. Said to be the fourth most commonly used language in the United States, American Sign Language, or ASL, made its debut on the space station in a special video recorded by Caldwell Dyson.

Transcript below the fold.

Continue reading Recommended Reading for Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Recommended Reading for 18 June, 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

A GI Joe, a male plastic doll with a crewcut, posed to form the American Sign Language Sign for 'friend.'

(Photo by kiddharma, Creative Commons License)

Alice Dreger and Ellen K. Feder at Bioethics Forum: Bad Vibrations (Content warning: child sexual assault, forced genital surgery, medical experimentation)

What is Poppas thinking? So far as we can tell, from published articles, presentations to parents, and his communications with Feder, he thinks he is responding to critics of genital surgery, like us, and thus reassuring parents that everything is going to be fine. Notably, though, there is a lack of control data for most of the patients described, meaning that we don’t know what sensation these girls might have had without the surgeries, nor do we know what a “normal” level of sensation is at these ages. (We can’t imagine any sane parent giving up his or her daughter to be the control.) We also don’t know that what the surgically altered girls feel in childhood will map onto their adult sexual lives. And we don’t know how Poppas’s tests are going to affect their psychosocial development.

Wheelchair Dancer: Super Movement

I wonder if, as the company has over the years got “better”, the price of that has been a series of expectations for ever more complicated and daring moves. I wonder if we will be able to keep up and, even, keep our reputation/ following as dance audiences, influenced by the tv shows with their own kinds of extreme movement, turn to art dance. Will simple speak alongside flashy?

Most of our work has been created by non disabled choreographers. I know that as we strive, for example, to move in unison, that I feel a lot of pressure on the disabled dancers to “keep up.” The rhetorical and movement dynamics are almost without exception focused on translation/adaptation. And, as part of being able to dance in these ways, we have become ever more adept at making the extraordinary look like “ordinary dance.”

Katja at brokenclay.org/journal: 2010 Longmont Triathlon

Based on last year’s experience, one of the other wheelchair athletes and I met with the race director a week before the race to talk about the logistics of including wheelchair athletes and especially to deal with some of the problems in the run course. It was mostly on a bike path with a lot of bad pavement and thorns. There was some very tight turns, difficult to do with a 5-6 foot long racing wheelchair. And there were portions over grass and curbs. We walked (rolled, biked) the course, and came up with some alternatives. We also had to alter the way the wheelchair athletes exited to the pool to go the transition area as the existing route included steps and grass.

Andrew Seidman at the Miami Herald: House panel: FEMA unready to help the disabled in a disaster

Almost five years after Hurricane Katrina, the federal government remains woefully unprepared to rescue at-risk groups of people in the path of a catastrophe, a congressional panel charged on Tuesday.

A House Homeland Security subcommittee challenged the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination to explain how its budget of $150,000 and its staff of four people could possibly execute an effective rescue plan for the aged, disabled and institutionalized.

Elizabeth at globecampus.ca: Student-built app allows disabled transit riders to get help from smartphones

Research from tech-savvy students at Ryerson University is helping disabled passengers navigate a subway line halfway around the world.

Their work, part of a push by the Toronto campus to tap student know-how to create new digital products, is allowing riders on one line of the Paris Metro to use their smartphones to get directions, plan their trip and ask for assistance from transit staff. Closer to home, the group is hoping to test the student-developed application on the GO train’s Lakeshore and Richmond Hill lines this fall.

taniada at Cynical Idealism: Untitled (Video with transcription)

Throughout history, people with physical and mental disabilities have been abandoned at birth, banished from society used as court jesters, drowned and burned during the Inquisition, gassed in Nazi Germany, and still continue to be segregated, institutionalized, tortured in the name of behavior management, abused, raped, euthanized, and murdered. Now, for the first time, people with disabilities are taking their rightful place as fully contributing citizens. The danger is that we will respond with remediation and benevolence rather then equity and respect. And so, we offer you a credo for support.

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com

Recommended reading for June 8, 2010

Becky CK at Happy Bodies: Why do we apologize for our bodies?

Why do feel the need to apologize for our bodies’ needs and justify the choices we make about them? As I continue to incorporate body positivity into my life, I still find myself listing off what I ate all day to justify why I’m hungry now, or explaining, in detail, what made me so tired that  I need a nap.

IrrationalPoint at Modus dopens: The “what-it-is-like-ness”

Sometimes people, usually neurotypical people with no sensory impairments, don’t use these, almost invariably because it looks ok to them. They can read it, so they don’t understand that other people won’t be able to.

Cara at The Curvature: Rape Victims Tell of Mistreatment by the NYPD [Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault]

And while all of the details of these women’s identities are not disclosed (and thus any or all of the following issues may have in fact applied to their stories), the accounts do not even begin to explicitly discuss the brutal and specific challenges faced by victims who are of color, trans*, disabled, poor, queer, and/or sex workers, due to the prejudicial hierarchies regarding who are “real” victims of sexual assault.

staticnonsense at I Am Not: “Exceptionally Creative”

Someone I know recently made the claim that Schizophrenia and “exceptional creativity” are “practically the same”.

This stems from a very common misconception that I see, regarding the understanding of Schizophrenia and other schizotypal spectrum disorders (Schizotypal Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Paraoid Personality Disorder and in some cases Schizoaffective Disorder). Specifically, stemming from ignoring the negative effects it can have on ones life in favor of the positive, in order to try to paint the spectrum as nothing but shiny rainbows and glitter.

thingsimreading on Tumblr: i remain forever confused…

i remain forever confused by people who are condescending, derailing and offensive but think because they said it all in a “nice way” that the fault lies with the person who points out what was hurtful in what they said/wrote.

Adrienne Dellwo at About.com’s Guide to Fibromyalgia and CFS: New Diagnostic Criteria For Fibromyalgia

Until we have a diagnostic test that’s based on blood markers or imaging, we probably won’t have a perfect diagnostic test.  (This is true of many diseases, especially neurological ones.)  Still, researchers believe they’ve come up with something that works better — they say when the looked at a group of previously diagnosed fibromyalgia patients, the tender-point exam was about 75% accurate, while their criteria caught it 88% of the time.

Recommended Reading for Friday, 14 May 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

A kiteboarder on the water with what appears to be an above the knee amputation of the left leg.

Photo by Flickr user Deadly Tedly, Creative Commons License.

Astrid at Astrid’s Journal: Autism and Mental Illness

But why should it matter at all? Of course, sometimes, the misconception that autism is a mental illness leads to inappropriate treatment, such as unwarranted drugging, and it is rather necessary that the two be distinguished then. But when the only aim is acceptance for autistics, it should not make a difference. People with mental illness deserve and strive for as much acceptance, after all.

NPR: The Impact of War

This is the landing page for an ongoing series by NPR with both transcripts and audio available. I’d highly recommend the whole series, but ‘Disabled Veterans Face A Faceless Bureaucracy‘ may be particularly relevant to your interests; here’s a pullquote:

The number of outstanding claims at the VA for service-related disabilities — amputations, injured limbs, PTSD, brain trauma — hovers around 500,000. Nearly 40 percent of those have been waiting on a decision for more than four months.

And to make matters worse, another 100,000 claims are waiting for a decision at the Board of Veterans Appeals. The department has responded by hiring thousands of new claims adjudicators, a kind of brute force approach.

Snarky’s Machine: 20th Century Boy

What I found tragic was not their respective disabilities, which I’m sure presented challenges to them, but the way in which their bodies were suddenly appropriate for public discourse and each was suddenly defined by what their bodies could no longer do in a way I found diminished their continuing talents and contributions in their area of excellence. Their lives were not really theirs anymore and their bodies were expected to be everyone else’s educational opportunity.

Steve Schultze and Meg Kissinger at the Journal Sentinel: Supervisors call for firing of county mental health chief [Content warning: Rape, sexual assault, institutionalisation. Editorial comment: What. The. Fuck?!]

Three Milwaukee County supervisors turned up the heat Monday on the county’s top mental health official, calling for the firing of John Chianelli over mishandling of patient assaults.

Their remarks follow a report Sunday in the Journal Sentinel in which Chianelli defended housing female patients with dangerous male patients to quell male-on-male violence, according to written account by Supervisor Lynne De Bruin. Chianelli called it a trade-off that resulted in more sexual assaults of female patients, according to De Bruin and two other supervisors.

Hazel Dooney at Self Vs. Self: After the Crash, Part One [Content Warning, graphic description of a car crash, being trapped in wreckage]

What drove me to a break down last year weren’t the rigours of making art (although, I concede, the toxic enamel I used was enormously detrimental to my physical health). Rather, it was always trying to do what others – family, friends, doctors, even collectors – kept telling me was ‘right’.

Cynthia Hubert at the Sacramento Bee: Groups sue Sacramento County to halt mental health cuts

The lawsuit seeking class-action status, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, contends the cuts violate various state and federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, and would be devastating to patients.

If the services are eliminated as planned on June 30, thousands of severely, chronically mentally ill people “will inevitably be exposed to increased harm of injury and death,” the lawsuit claims.

NPR1: Prudent Mabhena: Out Of Struggle, A Soaring Voice

“These children get locked away,” Williams says. “They’re hidden from the rest of society because the families are ashamed of them.”

Mabhena was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that deforms the joints; it has cost her both of her legs, and makes it difficult for her to use her arms. When she was born, her father’s mother advised her mother not to nurse her. After her parents abandoned her, she was cared for by her maternal grandmother, a rural farmer who kept Mabhena at her side as she worked.

  1. Ok I am sorry about two NPR links in one recommended reading but I’ve been saving these up all week. No, I do not own a Volvo. I swear. I don’t even have a tote bag!

Dear Imprudence: Sexual Assault By Any Other Name

The 24 April edition of Dear Abby led with this letter:

Dear Abby: I am an average 17-year-old girl with a big problem. A few days ago, my cousin’s boyfriend touched me inappropriately. It took a few seconds for me to realize what was happening and stop him. I got up and left the room.

I don’t want to tell my mom because she shares what we talk about with other people. I don’t want to tell my cousin because she loves her boyfriend, and if I ruin this for her, she’ll never speak to me again. I have seen her do it with other people.

My cousin visits my house every day with her boyfriend. I have been leaving for hours so I won’t have to see him. Please help me. What other option do I have besides telling somebody? — Staying Silent in Guam

Dear Staying Silent: You have two options. You can remain silent and let your cousin marry a man who has so little self-control that he would not only hit on another woman, but one who is a close relative of hers. Or you can tell your parents what happened so your cousin can be warned, and possibly save her from a world of heartache later on. Please be brave and do the right thing.

What I find fascinating about Abby’s response here is that she doesn’t name, identify, or discuss what happened to Staying Silent. The response is framed as ‘you wouldn’t want your cousin to marry a guy who would cheat on her, right?’

As opposed to ‘you wouldn’t want your cousin to marry someone who commits sexual assault, would you?’

Hrm, I wonder why that might be. Here we have a girl who describes being ‘touched inappropriately’ and says that she is afraid to talk to someone about it. I feel like a supportive and helpful response would name what happened—sexual assault—and provide the reader with resources such as referrals to sexual assault crisis centers or organizations like RAINN. Staying Silent did have another option; talking with a counselor instead of a family member about what happened, and maybe talking with the counselor about a way to bring this event up with her family.

Instead, Dear Abby didn’t address the actual event which occurred and informed Staying Silent that she should ‘be brave’ and ‘do the right thing’ by telling her parents. Refusing to name sexual assault is one of the reasons it is so hard to address. Calling sexual assault ‘hitting on’ someone makes it that much harder for a victim to identify it in the future; when Staying Silent is groped on a bus, is that being ‘hit on’? How about when she’s pressured into unwanted sexual contact by a partner?

How monumentally unhelpful.

Staying Silent, if you’re out there and you happen to be reading this: What happened to you was sexual assault. It was not ok. Some resources you might find helpful are the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence and the Healing Hearts Crisis Centre, both of which offer counseling services.

Recommended Reading for Wednesday, 21 April

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

A stack of Braille and large print recipe cards for what appears to be salsa; part of the recipe is covered but ingredients like cilantro and papaya are visible.

(Photo by Flickr user cobalt123, Creative Commons license.)

The Winston-Salem Journal: Against Their Will: North Carolina’s Sterilization Program

They were wives and daughters. Sisters. Unwed mothers. Children. Even a 10-year-old boy. Some were blind or mentally retarded. Toward the end they were mostly black and poor. North Carolina sterilized them all, more than 7,600 people.

For more than 40 years North Carolina ran one of the nation’s largest and most aggressive sterilization programs. It expanded after World War II, even as most other states pulled back in light of the horrors of Hitler’s Germany.

Contrary to common belief, many of the thousands marked for sterilization were ordinary citizens, many of them young women guilty of nothing worse than engaging in premarital sex.

This is an amazing multipart series which unfortunately they decided to make inaccessible via Flash/frames. For those who can access it, it is well worth a read.

pocochina at The Raging Prosecutrix: It’s just like Christmas! Another round of feminist generational sniping!

Both articles flagrantly miss the most important point which can be gleaned from the article – CRAPPY GODDAMN REPORTING, which is a part of the knee-jerk non-liberalism of the media in general and anti-feminist backlash reporting to be specific, which ends up compounding the issue the reporter was pretending to highlight – and instead focus on that ever-popular group which just has it so fucking good in the world, older women.  Both posts include a blatant call for the middle-aged women running organizations to step aside, solely because they are older, and therefore completely incapable of relating to or respecting younger women.

Jessica Yee guest posting at Feministe: Making the connections: Sexual Violence in Native Communities

The other important reason I can’t ignore the incidence of violence is because as an Indigenous person I come from a culture and a people who believe that EVERYTHING is related – and we take that teaching seriously. So moreover I can’t say, “well sexual health and violence is over here, but you know the environment department is over there” because if I continue to do that, SOMEONE is always going to lose out and as a young person I have a responsibility to the upcoming generations to make sure we don’t do that.

An update on the case Annaham mentioned last week: Los Angeles Times: Disabled mother of triplets, Abbie Dorn, visitation rights

Lisa Helfend Meyer, Abbie Dorn’s attorney, argued that Paul and Susan Cohen, Abbie’s parents and conservators, have a right to make decisions on her behalf; stripping them of that ability leaves Abbie without anyone to speak for her.

Other court cases have upheld conservators’ rights to determine medical care for people who have been declared incompetent, including terminating feeding tubes, an action that hastens death.

“If a conservator can do that, then why shouldn’t a conservator make a decision to pursue visitation?” Meyer asked. “It’s a fundamental right. Abbie is alive. She is entitled to pursue visitation. If she is denied the opportunity, she is denied equal protection under the law.”

Irina Nelson at The Scottish Sun: Blind fury (got to love the headline, right?)

Sally Clay, 30, claims she was told by two doormen in Dundee that her special cane was “too dangerous”.

But when plucky Sally read the riot act she says they then told her and her friends the Underground club’s insurance “did not cover blind people”.

Anthony Lane at the Colorado Springs Independent: Pueblo doctor sees no rest for the needed in Haiti

So the situation is dire, with the rainy season starting and hurricane season still to come. And yet Smith, 55, is already starting to see a replay of the cycle he has observed in nearly 10 years of doing medical work in Haiti.

“You get a lot of attention,” he says, “then it kind of dies down to those of us who got hooked for more of a long-term relationship.”

Recommended Reading for Friday, 9 April: Special FWD Contributors Elsewhere Edition!

It’s been a while since we had a round of ‘FWD Contributors writing elsewhere,’ so, without further ado…

abby jean writing at Feministe: Fighting Ableism Fights Sexual Assault (Content warning: Discussions of sexual assault, depression.)

Fighting against ableist language or ableist tropes in pop culture helps undermine the messages that could convince a woman with a disability that she doesn’t deserve more than sexual assault. Fighting ableism is fighting sexual assault. And, to extend that, fighting racism and classism and homophobia and trans oppression also fights sexual assault, by fighting the interlocking and intersecting forces that make women more and more vulnerable to rape and sexual assault.

Anna already mentioned this post in an earlier edition of Recommended Reading, but it’s worth highlighting again!

Brandann Hill-Mann (aka Ouyang Dan) writing at Racialicious: Wopajo

But it sums up my life perfectly: Too white to be Native and too Native to be white. And that is only the surface of my racial conundrum. Always on the edge of two identities and never quite belonging to either. I don’t look like anyone else in my family; I am lighter and my hair brown, not the silky black that you see in some popular movies, and is sometimes a little curly, and my eyes are partially green. I don’t look like my own family, and when I tell someone that I am in fact not White, I get the sympathetic “oh, yes, I see it now, you do have remarkably high cheek bones!” stamp of approval.

s.e. smith writing at Global Comment: Child abuse & vengeance in picturesque Fort Bragg, CA (Content warning: Discussions of molestation, rape, murder.)

There are laws in place to protect people like Aaron Vargas and the thousands of people abused by Catholic priests. Mandated reporting laws, for example, oblige people in positions of authority to report suspected abuse. Likewise, law enforcement are expected to follow up on abuse reports.

Chally at Feministe: It’s About Control

Because there are people out there who think the idea of controlling their partner, controlling women, is a source of amusement. That getting those nasty bitches to pipe down is a dream. But more than that, worse than that, is that this remote is a reminder that there are men out there who desire to control “their” women’s every action and being like this. That is abuse. It is not a source of humour, and I don’t know what kind of disconnect or contempt or hatred it takes to make anyone think it could possibly be something to laugh about.

Hannah Freeman (interviewing Anna) at the McGill Daily: Hey, feminist movement!

‘It would thrill me if all feminist writers everywhere would assume that “women” includes “women with disabilities”, and stop acting like they’re doing us a favour by letting us talk about our “pet issues”. Disability crosses race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political view, etc.’

What does it mean to heal?

Perhaps this is the wrong question. Instead, I propose: What is there to heal?

Healing is the process of a body, having been injured in some way, doing what it takes to restore itself to normalcy. Merriam-Webster says, specifically, “to make sound or whole” and “to restore to original purity or integrity.”

Take note of the words I have highlighted. What are they saying?

This cultural idea of healing, applied to a person’s spirit rather than body, draws upon the idea of an abnormal body being made “normal.” It assumes that any person not normal should be made normal.

But there are all sorts of bodies in this world. Bodies with broken bones, broken skin, disfigured limbs, faces, with cuts and gashes and wounds, missing limbs, missing organs, organs which work in abnormal ways — according to our cultural norms.

And, much the same, there are all sorts of people in this world. People who have survived assault and abuse, been subject to violence, faced trauma, been manipulated or neglected, dealt with addictions, lost loved ones. People who have experienced any number of things which cause them significant distress.

These people are expected to “heal” from their experience. They go through a modest amount of time processing the event emotionally and then return to normal.

But why should they be made normal?

Why should any broken person be pushed and pressured into a form which does not fit?

Why is it that a person who is anything other than normal is therefore less than whole?

Why can’t a person simply be who they are, even if they are injured or broken or disfigured, and still be considered a whole person?

Any person who has faced trauma will need to find ways to process their trauma, ways to cope, ways to live with what has changed in their life. But that person should not have to push hirself to go back to how things once were — or to make things resemble what they are for a person who has not faced that trauma. Things may be different. There is not only one way to live a life. There are many. And perhaps you will settle into a different one — one which works better for who you are now — which may not have worked for who you were before. And that way is no less right.

What do you do when life changes? You adapt. You make things fit you. You don’t make you fit everything else.

It’s ok to be broken. Being broken does not make you less than whole. It makes you different. And that’s ok.

Barriers to justice when rapists attack women with disabilities: Australian report

[This post was originally published on October 3, 2008 at Hoyden About Town.]

*trigger warnings apply to this post: descriptions of abuse and sexual assault against women with disabilities**

“This young woman [“Caroline”] has cerebral palsy, is wheelchair bound, totally dependent on carers for her personal and daily living activities, and non-verbal. Cognitively very aware, she depends on assisted communication to enable her to communicate … Caroline was sexually assaulted by the taxi driver who picked her up from home and drove her to school …

Caroline uses a communication book to communicate, but her communication book did not have the vocabulary she needed to describe what had happened to her. Her communication book did not include words such as “penis” or “rape”, and police would not allow these words to be added after the incident, because as the police explained, in court this would be seen as leading the witness. (Excerpt from an interview with a support worker cited in Federation of Community Legal Centres, 2006, pp. 7–8).”

Suellen Murray and Anastasia Powell of the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault have just released a new report: “Sexual assault and adults with a disability enabling recognition, disclosure and a just response” [PDF].

This report starts to fill a huge gap in our knowledge of sexual violence in Australia. Although data in North America has shown that women with disabilities (WWD) are far more likely to experience sexual violence than those without, up until now there has been little or no systematic research into what is happening with WWD in Australia:

Despite being the major national data collection regarding the status and experiences of adults with a disability, the ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, does not invite participants to report on their experiences of violence or abuse.

Similarly, the ABS (2006) Personal Safety Survey report, which specifically investigates experiences of violence, does not identify the disability status of participants, and the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS) specifically excluded women with an illness or disability from the sample for the survey (Mouzos & Makkai, 2004).

Therefore, despite evidence that approximately 20% of Australian women, and 6% of men, will experience sexual violence in their lifetime (ABS, 2006), there is no standard national data collection that includes the experiences of sexual violence amongst adults with a disability, or more specifically, the experiences of women with a disability.

There is one smallish South Australian study showing that adults with intellectual disabilities are over ten times more likely to have been sexually assaulted.

Continue reading Barriers to justice when rapists attack women with disabilities: Australian report