Sexual assault is a deeply distressing and prevalent issue, affecting individuals across all walks of life. However, it is crucial to recognise that people with a disability face unique challenges when it comes to addressing and preventing sexual assault. In the UK, statistics reveal a concerning trend, with a disproportionate number of disabled people experiencing such trauma.
There are approximately 16 million people with a disability in the UK, or almost a quarter of the population. According to a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), disabled people in the UK are almost twice as likely to experience sexual assault compared to their non-disabled counterparts.
People with a disability face a multitude of barriers that exacerbate their vulnerability to sexual assault. These include:
- Limited accessibility: Many environments lack adequate accessibility measures, leaving disabled people in situations where they cannot easily escape or seek help.
- Dependency on caregivers: Some disabled people may be entirely dependent on caregivers, making them particularly vulnerable to abuse by those entrusted with their care.
- Stereotypes and stigma: Prevalent stereotypes and stigmas surrounding disability can lead to disbelief, victim-blaming, and underreporting of incidents.
- Communication barriers: Nonspeaking individuals or those with communication difficulties may struggle to express their experiences or ask for help.
Support that Should be Offered
Accessible reporting mechanisms: Implementing easy-to-use reporting systems with options for online, phone, and in-person reporting, ensuring they are universally accessible.
Training and Awareness: Providing comprehensive training to caregivers, service providers, and the community at large on recognizing, preventing, and reporting sexual assault against individuals with a disability.
Accessible Services and Spaces: Ensuring that spaces and services are designed to be fully accessible, allowing all individuals to seek help without hindrance.
Empowerment and Education: Offering workshops and resources that empower disabled people with knowledge on consent, healthy relationships, and self-advocacy.
Legal Protections and Support: Strengthening legal frameworks to ensure that people with a disability have equal access to justice and support in cases of sexual assault.
If you would like to create an anonymous record of an incident that happened to you, start below.