‘Did you know?’ Thursdays

06 Oct ‘Did you know?’ Thursdays

Sexual Violence & Intellectual Disability

Imagine that you go through a deeply harrowing experience. Imagine that in the immediate aftermath of such experience people start showering you with questions, asking you to tell them the nitty-gritty of what has happened to you. Not once, not twice, but over and over again. Imagine that the questions keep on coming for days, weeks, months. Many crime victims are familiar with this narrative.

Now try to imagine a situation where you struggle to put into words what has happened to you, you get confused, you change your mind, you can no longer give a straight answer to the ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘when’ and ‘how’. Again, it is not uncommon for crime victims to find themselves grappling with such circumstances. When it comes to victims of rape with intellectual disabilities, it is often the rule, rather than the exception.

Rape victims with intellectual disabilities are victimised not only as a result of crime, but also during criminal proceedings. Criminal justice officials lack adequate training to deal with cases involving people with intellectual disabilities. They draw on standardised guidelines to assess body language, often failing to adequately interpret the victim’s testimony. As a result, victims with intellectual disabilities are often misunderstood and denied adequate support, redress, and ultimately, justice.

Want to know more? Read Peter’s story, a real life testimony of the numerous barriers to justice faced by rape victims with intellectual disabilities.

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