South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence

Strategies for workers

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The role of the worker as identified in Breaking the Silence, 1995 with corresponding strategies for working with a victim/survivor with an intellectual disability.

Role of the worker (Scott, Walker & Gilmore, 1995)

Focus on the victim/survivor.

Provision of information Should be given in a way which is able to be understood by the person with an intellectual disability. This may require alternatives or adaptations to printed material ie. pictures.
Creation of options for the victim/ survivor Need to be realistic taking into consideration the limitations and opportunities for the person with an intellectual disability regarding their lifestyle, ability to make choices, and level of autonomy. Some consultation with other service providers/support workers may be necessary.
Securing informed consent If the worker is unsure of the victim/survivors ability to give informed consent the person's guardian or the Office of the Public Advocate and Guardianship Board should be contacted.
Acceptance of and respect for the victim/survivors' decisions Some individuals may be unaccustomed to making choices and their own decisions. Options should be presented clearly and if necessary some consultation and agreement to abide by the individual's decisions be made with their support workers/family etc.
(NB. If a person is a registered client with the Department of Human Services there will be some procedures followed regarding the reporting of sexual assault. Likewise some decisions may be made by an appointed guardian if it is deemed necessary.)
Facilitation of the victim/survivors rebuilding of themselves Establish and note the individual's goals/wishes and revisit them frequently (can be useful to do this in a format which the individual can refer to eg. on butchers paper, using pictures/symbols).
Supporting the victim/survivor to find and express their ability to heal and survive May have to use Concrete resources to assist expression of feelings eg. masks, pictures, dolls/puppets.
Restoring rights The victim/survivor who has an intellectual disability may not be aware of their rights or that any rights have been violated. This information may need to be introduced and reinforced over a period of time. The right to privacy, the right to feel safe and the right to say "no" may need to be introduced.

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