As an advocate for persons with disabilities, my ears perked up when National Public Radio (NPR) aired a series on sexual violence against people with intellectual disabilities in January of 2018. The series titled Abused and Betrayed reported, “People with intellectual disabilities — women and men — are the victims of sexual assaults at rates more than seven times those for people without disabilities. It's one of the highest rates of sexual assault of any group in America, and it's hardly talked about at all.”
Sexual assault and harassment are not new problems only recently discovered. Woman and men
have known about this forever, it seems to me, but they (we) didn't like to talk about it in public.
"It" was too embarrassing to talk about. "It" was too shameful. "It" must have been their own
fault anyway, we may have told ourselves.
But, sexual assault and harassment is not the fault of the victim!
While the national level of media exposure that sexual harassment and assault
are receiving now is important, it’s still not enough. What happens after the media attention dies down? Will the issues and problems go away? I doubt it!
We who are able must advocate for those who are vulnerable.
Fortunately, organizations like the Dove’s Nest (dovesnest.net) offer resources for churches to keep children and youth safe from abuse and neglect. The ARC (thearc.org) also provides up to date information and resources to promote and protect the human rights of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Join me in saying “No more!” to sexual abuse against all people of all abilities. And may God hear our pleas for mercy and grant us peace.