Men with Disabilities More Likely to Be Sexually Abused

A new study of the University of Massachusetts Medical School is the first population-based investigation to examine sexual violence victimisation against men with disabilities. Researchers report that men with disabilities are more than four times more likely to be victimised by sexual assaults compared to men without disabilities.

"Men with disabilities are at a heightened risk for lifetime and current sexual violence victimisation," according to lead investigator Monika Mitra. "The most notable finding is that the prevalence of lifetime sexual violence, completed rape, and attempted rape against men with disabilities was comparable to that against women without disabilities, and past-year rates for men with disabilities exceeded those for women without disabilities."

Mitra adds that "this study also broadened research of such victimisation against men with disabilities beyond the intimate partner context to acquaintances and strangers, as well as family members, intimate partners, and dates. This is particularly relevant for people with disabilities whom earlier studies have suggested are especially likely to experience abuse from caregivers and personal care and other attendants, in addition to intimate partners."

Approximately 13.9 per cent of men with disabilities reported lifetime sexual violence, compared to 3.7 per cent of men without disabilities, 26.6 per cent of women with disabilities, and 12.4 per cent of women without disabilities. Men with disabilities (5.3 per cent) were more likely to report past-year sexual violence than men (1.5 per cent) and women (2.4 per cent) without disabilities and less likely than women with disabilities (6.3 per cent).

Participants were asked whether anyone ever had or attempted to have sex with them without their consent; and whether in the past year anyone had touched them sexually without their consent or despite their objections or had exposed them to non-consensual sexual situations that did not involve physical touching.

To determine disability status, respondents were asked whether they had limitations because of physical, mental, or emotional problems, any health problem that required use of special equipment, trouble learning, remembering or concentrating because of a health problem or impairment, or a physical, mental, emotional, or communication-related disability. Those responding yes to any of these questions and whose disability had limited their activities for at least one year were classified as having a disability.; Source: Elsevier Health Sciences

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