Intellectual Disability (ID) and abuse

Forms of abuse

There are many risks that people with ID face. The biggest one is abuse and mistreatment. In recent years, unfortunately, several cases of abuse or mistreatment, to people with ID, have been revealed coming from their environment.

Abusers, choose those people (with ID) as they consider them unable to legally act against them. The abuse they face, may have different forms or might be a combination of forms. The abuse might be:

  • physical,
  • psychological,
  • sexual or even
  • neglect

The most common abuse, that people with ID face, is sexual abuse, with the overwhelming majority against women.

Sexual abuse of people with ID

People with ID are vulnerable to sexual abuse due to many factors. Some of them might be the following:

  • the fact that they depend on others (family, caregivers etc.)
  • the “learned” consent,
  • the social isolation,
  • the lack of education, regarding sexuality and sexual abuse,
  • the treatment by society.

According to research, almost 80% of people with ID, have faced sexual abuse at least once during their life and only the 20% of those cases, were reported to Authorities.

Why are those incidents not reported to Authorities?

There are several reasons why those incidents are not reported to Authorities. Some of them might be:

  • the difficulty in communication,
  • the feeling of guilt,
  • the fear of abandonment or fear of separation from the family.

Another reason of tolerating the abuse, is that the person with ID, often believes that in this way, he/she might be accepted by his/her environment.

According to Helen Levy and Wendy Packman and their publishment in Journal of Genetic Counseling, the majority of sexual abuse cases, of people with ID, happens from people they personally know– such as family, caregivers etc. The 40% of cases, are cases like those, while the 90% of them are not reported to Authorities.

What can we do?

Educate! People with ID should be edu

Νοητική Υστέρηση και κακοποίηση image

cated on sexuality issues, as well as in the prevention of sexual abuse. It is really important that family and caregivers, are giving them all the essential information, in a way that can be understood, of when a relationship is healthy and when it is not.

In this way, people with ID, will be able to recognise and act against mistreatment and abuse during their life. Furthermore, during this procedure, while educating them regarding sexuality and prevention of sexual abuse, people with ID might come to the right place of revealing or sharing any case of sexual abuse they might have faced in the past or might facing in present.

The trust that is been built during the previous years, with people with ID, is of utmost importance. It is important to “recognise” the abuse quickly. In every case, and in order to share the incident to Authorities, all information should be gathered without being twisted. For this reason, the cooperation with experts/specialists is mandatory.

Active Ageing – AIDA project

It is undeniable that people who have someone with ID in their environment, should also focus to issues of possible abuse and mistreatment. Family and caregivers should take all the needed measurements, information, and tools in order to improve the quality of life (of people with ID), as much in present as in future, when difficulties of ageing will be increasing.

Five (5) organisations from Greece, Spain, England, and Denmark joined their forces to implement the Active Ageing – AIDA project. Active Ageing – AIDA project was born from the need to address the fact that people with ID, are getting older and that there is currently no specific training in Vocational Training (VET) to care for them.

During AIDA project there will be created:

  • Identification of elderly with ID.
  • Curriculum for VET.
  • Online Training.

People with ID, need special care, especially when they become elderly. Researchers are noting that the aging process for people with ID differs significantly from the aging process for people of a similar age, so it is necessary to adjust the care and treatment they receive to match it to their own characteristics and needs.

Learn more about Active Ageing – AIDA here!

Scroll to Top