There have long been concerns about sexual abuse among women with disabilities, but new research suggests that men with special needs are at increased risk as well.
In fact, men with disabilities are nearly four times more likely to experience sexual abuse than their typically developing peers, according to a study published online Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The finding comes from a 2005 survey of nearly 22,000 noninstitutionalized adults who were asked about unwanted sexual contact.
Nearly 14 percent of men with disabilities indicated they had experienced some type of sexual violence in their lifetime compared to less than 4 percent of men without disabilities. Meanwhile, almost 27 percent of women with disabilities and about 12 percent of typically developing women reported experiencing sexual abuse.
“Men with disabilities are at a heightened risk for lifetime and current sexual violence victimization,” said Monika Mitra of the University of Massachusetts Medical School who led the study. “The most notable finding is that the prevalence of lifetime sexual violence, completed rape and attempted rape against men with disabilities was comparable to that against women without disabilities.”
For purposes of the survey, individuals were considered to have a disability if they reported having a physical, mental or emotional problem as well as certain health problems that limited their activities for at least one year.
Researchers found that men with disabilities faced sexual abuse from a variety of perpetrators including family members, acquaintances, strangers, intimate partners and dates.