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Sexual abuse of the mentally handicapped: difficulties in establishing prevalence

  • Ann Buchanan (a1) and Robert Wilkins (a2)
Extract

That adults with mental handicap∗ are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation is not new, although relatively unacknowledged or investigated. Indeed successive acts under the mental health legislation have sought to protect them, particularly those with severe mental handicap. With the growing awareness and identification of sexual abuse of children, and the growing knowledge of the long-term psychological effects (Jehu, 1989), which may be even more severe for people who have disabilities (Kennedy, 1990; Sinason, 1989), it has been acknowledged that not only are the mentally handicapped particularly vulnerable to abuse (Benedict et al, 1990), but the problem may well be seriously underestimated by those working in management positions (Brown & Craft, 1989). While it is recognised that the mentally handicapped have rights and need to express their sexuality, they also have the right not to be exploited or abused. We therefore need to know more about the numbers, indicators and circumstances where this group may be sexually abused and to develop policies, systems and training to protect them (Brown & Craft, 1989). This pilot study was a step in this process.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Benedict, M. I., White, R. B., Wulff, L. M. & Hall, B. J. (1990) Reported maltreatment in children with multiple disabilities. Child Abuse and Neglect, 14, 207217.
Brown, H. & Craft, A. eds. (1989) Thinking the Unthinkable: Papers on Sexual Abuse and People with Learning Difficulties. London: Family Planning Association.
Jehu, D. (1989) Beyond Sexual Abuse: Therapy with women who were victims in childhood. Chichester: John Wiley.
Kennedy, M. (1990) The deaf child who is sexually abused - is there a need for a dual specialist? Child Abuse Review, 4, 36.
Sinason, V. (1989) Uncovering and responding to sexual abuse in psychotherapeutic settings. In Thinking the Unthinkable (eds. Brown, H. and Craft, A.). London: Family Planning Association.
Sobsey, D. & Varnhagen, C. (1989) In Special Education across Canada (eds. Sapo, & Gougen, ). Vancouver Centre for Human Development and Research.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Sexual abuse of the mentally handicapped: difficulties in establishing prevalence

  • Ann Buchanan (a1) and Robert Wilkins (a2)
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