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People with disabilities experience higher rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, and abuse. 


year-long investigation by NPR in 2017, found that people with intellectual disabilities are up to seven times more likely to be sexually assaulted than those without disabilities. This is what NPR called a "hidden epidemic." In fact, it wasn't until this investigation that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released pertinent federal crime data. 


Sadly, data gathered from watchdog organizations and US sexual assault statistics have found that disabled people were twice as likely to be victims of sexual assault than able-bodied people. Statistics of sexual abuse show that the majority of these heinous assaults were carried out in care environments (both facilities and home care). Yet, they were also reported as taking place during hospital or general practitioner sessions, as well as in individual therapy sessions. 

Some statistics: 

  • Rape/sexual assault happens to individuals with disabilities at 3 times the rate compared to their non-disabled peers. 

  • 24% of violent crime victims with disabilities believed they were targeted due to their disability. Increase 13% since 2009 

  • People with intellectual disabilities experience sexual assault at 7 times the rate of their non-disabled peers. 

  • 65% of people with disabilities who experience violent victimization are victimized by someone they know (compared to 52% of their non-disabled peers). 

  • 90% of people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual abuse in their lifetime. 

  • 50% of individuals with disabilities will experience 10 or more abusive incidents. 

  • Only 37% of people with disabilities are abused report the abuse to law enforcement. 

  • Only 5% of reported cases lead to prosecution or conviction. 

  • Just 3% of sexual abuses involving people with developmental disabilities are ever reported. 

  • 50% of girls who are deaf have been sexually abused compared to 25% of girls who are hearing; 54% of boys who are deaf have been sexually abused in comparison to 10% of boys who are hearing. 

  • Women with a disability are far more likely to have a history of undesired sex with an intimate partner – 19.7% vs. 8.2%. 

  • Approximately 80% of women and 30% of men with developmental disabilities have been sexually assaulted – half of these women have been assaulted more than 10 times. 

  • For men with disabilities who had experienced sexual assault, the most common perpetrator was a friend (34.2 percent) or an acquaintance (22.8 percent). For women with disabilities who had experienced sexual assault, the most common perpetrator was an intimate partner (39.6 percent) or an acquaintance (25.1 percent). 


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found these six facts about people with disabilities and domestic violence taken from peer-reviewed articles. 

  • People with disabilities have a higher lifetime prevalence of experiencing abuse than people without disabilities. 

  • People with disabilities experience violent crime at twice the rate of people without disabilities. 

  • People with disabilities are three times as likely to be sexually assaulted as their peers without disabilities. 

  • In 2008, intimate partners perpetrated 27% of violent crimes against women with disabilities and 1.1% of crime against men with disabilities. 

  • Police are less likely to respond to reported violence against victims with disabilities than they are to reported violence against victims without disabilities. Police respond to 90% of reports by victims without disabilities and 77% of reports by victims with disabilities. 

  • A survey conducted by the Spectrum Institute Disability and Abuse Project found that 70% of respondents with disabilities experienced some form of abuse by an intimate partner, family member, caregiver, acquaintance or stranger. Of those … 

    • 2% experienced verbal/emotional abuse 

    • 6% experienced physical abuse 

    • 6% experienced sexual abuse 

    • 4% experienced neglect 

    • 5% experienced financial abuse 

    • 3% reported the abuse to law enforcement 

    • Alleged perpetrators were arrested in 10% of abuse cases reported to law enforcement.


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