Abuse Developmentally Disabled Survey Findings

The 2012 Survey on Abuse of People with
Disabilities is the first national survey of its kind —
one that focuses on incidents of, responses to, and
attitudes about abuse or crime victimization of
children and adults with disabilities.
The survey sought input from the public, especially
from persons with disabilities and those who interact
with them, such as family members, caregivers,
service providers, and advocates.
The surveyquestions were developed by Jim Stream
and Dr. NoraBaladerian of the Disability and Abuse
Project of Spectrum Institute. Jim Stream is the
Executive Director of The Arc of Riverside County.
Dr. Baladerian is a clinical psychologist who
specializes in abuse of people with disabilities. The
survey was distributed throughout the nation by a
wide variety of organizations.
Findings: Prevalence of Abuse
1. Over 70% of people with disabilities who took
the survey reported they had been victims of abuse.
2. More than 63% of parents and immediate family
members reported that their loved one with a
disability had experienced abuse.
3. Some disability types had a higher incidence of
abuse than others. For example, 74.8% of people
with mental health conditions reported theyhad been
victims of abuse, while 67.1% of those with a
speech disability, 66.5% of those with autism,
62.5% of those with an intellectual or developmental
disability, and 55.2% of those with a mobility
disability reported having experienced such abuse.
Findings: Types of Abuse
4. People with disabilities who were victims
reported having experienced various types of abuse.
Some 87.2% reported verbal-emotional abuse,
50.6% physical abuse, 41.6% sexual abuse, 37.3%
neglect, and 31.5% financial abuse.
5. The rate of sexual abuse varied greatly among
victims depending on the type of disabilities they
had. Some 47.4% of people with mental health
conditions reported they had been victims of sexual
abuse, whereas 34.2% of those with intellectual or
developmental disabilities, 31.6% of those with a
mobility disability, and 24.9% of those with autism
reported they had experienced sexual abuse.
Findings: Frequency of Abuse
6. More than 90% of people with disabilities who
were victims of abuse said they had experienced
such abuse on multiple occasions. Some 57% of
these victims said they had been victims of abuse on
more than 20 occasions, with 46% saying it had
happened too many times for them to even count.
7. The rate of victimization reported by various
disability communities (defined as people with
disabilities or pwd and families) was rather
consistent, with the following victim types reporting
they had been abused 10 or more times: mental
health (59.4%), mobility (45.7%), autism (44.3%),
speech (43.8%), and I/DD (39.9%).
Findings: Disability Types of Victims
8. These are the types of disabilities that victims of
abuse reported having (some had more than one type
of disability): I/DD (38.4%), mental health (30.5%),
autism (28.8%), mobility (22.6%), speech (16.9%),
Deaf (10.3%), blind (7.2%), Fetal Alcohol
Syndrome Disorder or FASD (4.4%).
Findings: Reporting of Abuse
9. Among people with disabilities who reported
they had been victims of abuse, only 37.3% said they
had reported it to the authorities.
10. When families of victims and people with
disabilities who are victims are both considered, the
rate of reporting increased to 51.7%. This suggests
that when a family member learns of the abuse, it
becomes more likely that a report will be filed with
authorities.
11. The rate of reporting varied among specific
“disability communities” (pwd and families). Some
55.4% of victims with autism reported abuse, while
52.8% of those with a speech disability, 44.2% of
those with a mental health condition, and 39.5% of
those with a mobility disability did so.
12. The rates of non-reporting are high even with
the most serious forms of abuse. For example, some
40% of victims of physical abuse (violence) did not
report it to the authorities and more than 41% of
victims of sexual abuse did not report.
Findings: Reasons for Not Reporting
13. People with disabilities who were victims cited
futility, fear, and lack of information as reasons for
not reporting. Some 58% believed that nothing
would happen; 38% had been threatened or were
afraid; 33% did not know how or where to report.

12. The rates of non-reporting are high even with
the most serious forms of abuse. For example, some
40% of victims of physical abuse (violence) did not
report it to the authorities and more than 41% of
victims of sexual abuse did not report.
Findings: Reasons for Not Reporting
13. People with disabilities who were victims cited
futility, fear, and lack of information as reasons for
not reporting. Some 58% believed that nothing
would happen; 38% had been threatened or were
afraid; 33% did not know how or where to report.
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Findings: Outcomes of Reporting
15. When victims with disabilities did report
incidents of abuse to authorities, in 52.9% of cases
nothing happened. Alleged perpetrators were
arrested in only 9.8% of cases where abuse was
reported to authorities.
16. When reporting by families and people with
disabilities who were victims are both considered,
nothing happened in 42.8% of the cases. This is a
better outcome, but it is still a disappointing number.
Unfortunately, the percent of alleged perpetrators
who were arrested also decreased to 7.8%.
Findings: Prevalence of Bullying
17. More than 73% of people with disabilities who
took the survey reported they had been victims of
bullying. Most of these victims had experienced
bullying on multiple occasions, with 38% saying
that their victimization had lasted for years on end.
18. People with autism and people with mental
health conditions were victims of bullying at a
significantly higher rate than people with other types
of disabilities. The following are the rates of
bullying reported by various disability communities
(pwd and families): autism (77%), mental health
(74.7%), speech (66.8%), I/DD (64.3%), and
mobility (55%).
19. Most bulling occurred at school (72%),
followed by neighborhood or home (42.4%), work
(36.8%) and then at a sports team (8.8%).
Findings: Frequency of Bullying
20. Most victims say their experience of bullying
was not an isolated incident but rather was
something that happened on multiple occasions.
Bullying happened more than once to people with
mobility disabilities (89%), autism (89%), speech
disabilities (89%), mental health conditions (95%),
and intellectual or developmental disabilities(88%).
Bullying was experienced 10 times or more by
people with mental health conditions (59.4%),
mobility disabilities (45.7), autism (44.3%), speech
disabilities (43.8%), and intellectual or
developmental disabilities (39.9%).
Findings: Getting Therapy
21. Some 65.4% of people with disabilities who
were victims of abuse or bullying did not receive
counseling or therapy.
22. When therapy was provided, 83% of people
with disabilities who were victims say that it was
helpful to them.
23. More than 63% of victims of physical abuse and
52% of victims of sexual assault did not get therapy.
Findings: Victim/Witness Programs
24. Fewer than 5% of victims of abuse received any
benefits from a victim compensation program. This
is true even for victims of physical abuse. A slightly
higher percent of sexual abuse victims, some 8.6%,
received benefits through such a program.

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