Talk, talk, and then talk some more to prevent this from last week’s post..
A few months ago, I attended the best training to date of my career. The training was focused on interviewing child victims as part of investigations, but also discussed at length the process of interviewing people with disabilities who have been violated.
The speaker, a long time special investigator for crimes involving people with disabilities, said the single most effective thing we can do to protect people with disabilities from sexual assaults is to talk to them about sexuality.
I know, seems like a no brainer. Yet it’s amazing how frequently this does not happen.
Many culprits are the reason.
The myth that people with disabilities are asexual is still pretty alive and well. It’s centuries old, but society still has a hard time letting go of it. Somehow people still buy into the false belief that if your body and/or mind work differently, that negates one’s sexuality.
Perpetrators see people with disabilities as easy targets because of the difficulty in speaking up for oneself.
Families and staff sometimes don’t believe a person when they do speak up.
Schools and service programs still don’t provide, or at best, reluctantly provide sex education to people with disabilities.
People with disabilities struggle with this global lack of acknowledgment of our sexuality. This can then become internalized to affect low self esteem, decreased confidence, and difficulty feeling empowered to speak up when boundaries are overstepped and violated.
I know this is a hard topic for parents and family members, but the consequence of not talking about this is so much worse. Take care of your kids (of any age) by talking to them about things that make you uncomfortable.
When they’re protected from abuse, assault, and people who want to hurt them, you will be so grateful that you tread into these intrepid waters.
If you’re a professional, keep advocating with your organization to include sexuality awareness and education in their programs and services.
If this post, doesn’t convince, maybe this disturbing series of interviews will.
And most importantly, if you’re a person living with disability, know that you have every right to have your sexuality acknowledged and valued. Sometimes that begins with you. Reach out, though, for support from at least one person in your life who can affirm this natural and important part of yourself.