Disability & Child Sexual Abuse

Why are children with disabilities at higher risk for sexual abuse?

Research studies have shown that children with various types of disability are at increased risk for child sexual abuse.  In some cases, this is because the nature of their disability makes them more vulnerable.  Some examples:

  • An abuser may pretend (and tell the child) that sexual touching is really just them helping with personal care (e.g., bathing, grooming, toileting).

  • An abuser can limit a child’s ability to escape abuse by taking away mobility aids (e.g., crutches, wheelchairs) or threatening to strand them somewhere.

  • A child with communication difficulties may not have the vocabulary or communication skills to disclose abuse in a way that convinces others.

  • A child’s credibility may be questioned because of an intellectual disability or emotional disturbance.

  • Bias against persons with disability and stereotypes about sexual abuse may cause some people to dismiss the idea of a particular child being sexually abused by a particular person (e.g., He’s a good looking guy. Why would he want to have sex with someone like that?)

Learn more by clicking on the links below: