From research, both international and Australian, we know that:
· 50-90% of people with a disability are sexually assaulted in their lifetime (Crossmaker 1991; Carmody 1990)
· People with a disability are three times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime (Wilson & Brewer 1992)
· High rates of sexual assault by service providers. Service providers, eg. residential care workers, teachers, therapists, make up the largest group of perpetrators in many large studies. (Sobsey & Doe 1991)
· The assaults are more likely to be severe and ongoing, eg. involving penetration. Because many people with disabilities are not taken seriously, or are unable to disclose due to cognitive or communication difficulties, the abuse is likely to have gone on for a long while without being detected, and less likely to be believed and acted on if it is found out.(Nosek 1997)
· The assaults are less likely to be detected and acted on (Connelley & Keilty 2000)
· Offenders gravitate to residential facilities. Moving people out of institutional care has not made them safer. The rates of sexual assault in residential facilities is high, with perpetrators having greater access and opportunity to assault highly vulnerable people. (Blyth 2002)
Offenders will often move from facility to facility. When suspicions arise in one place, they move on. We were contacted recently about an offender who has now sexually assaulted in at least three different facilities. However because he hasn’t been formally charged he is still working with an agency which provides locums to disability and aged care services. He always targets clients with little or no verbal communication.