South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence

Common myths

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Sexual assault and people with an intellectual disability

The following information provides some insight into the incidence and prevalence of sexual assault amongst people with an intellectual disability and outlines the social context of sexual assault in the lives of people with an intellectual disability.

Common myths

A number of myths exist within society which can impact on the recognition of sexual assault of people with an intellectual disability and the likelihood of adequate responses to such incidents. The existence of these myths continue to surround the lives of people with an intellectual disability and play a role in discrediting the experiences of victim/survivors of sexual assault who have an intellectual disability. They can also provide others with an incorrect reference point for their beliefs about the sexual assault or sexuality of people with an intellectual disability and shape the responses made to disclosures and reports.

Consider

The following myths:

  • People with an intellectual disability are very rarely the victims of sexual assault.
  • People with an intellectual disability do not suffer the same effects of sexual assault as non-disabled victims.
  • People with an intellectual disability are asexual.
  • People with an intellectual disability are hypersexual.
  • Any form of sexual contact is enjoyed by a person with an intellectual disability.
  • People with an intellectual disability are not able to consent to sex.
  • Only young provocative and sexually attractive women are sexually assaulted.

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