Women with disabilities are twice as likely to be sexually abused as women without disabilities. As many as 86% of women with disabilities will be sexually abused in their lifetime.
Why is this population so vulnerable?
They may not be able to protect themselves or recognize they need protecting; they may put themselves in risky situations to find a sense of belonging. They may not be able to put words to what happened. Also, often if they do tell, they are not believed. Statistics say that only 3% of the individuals with disabilities ever disclose they have been sexually abused.
When these clients come to ASTOP, quite often it is the first time that they are believed. At ASTOP, individuals with disabilities receive of our services. ASTOP’s Prevention Educator Courtney teaches about protective behaviors, healthy relationships, and bullying to different groups such as NAMI and The Arc. Client Advocate Angel helps with restraining orders, and provides support if they go through the court process (unfortunately, the court process and questioning may be more difficult for these individuals when they have to provide specific details of what happened.)
Michelle and Marilyn provide counseling services. Counseling services include teaching safety and coping skills. Courtney and Michelle also work with individuals at Lakeland Care District in Fond du Lac; they co-facilitate a psycho-educational group that meets weekly for seven weeks. During that time, there are often many disclosures of abuse.
Just because someone may have mental illness, cognitive disabilities, or developmental disabilities, they do not deserve to be sexually assaulted. Everyone deserves to be supported and believed if they have been sexually abused. ASTOP prides itself on providing quality services to ALL individuals.