A recent report stated the shocking fact that more than 90 percent of developmentally disabled citizen in the United States will experience sexual abuse at some point in their lifetime. However, most of these sexual assaults go unreported, and if the people with disabilities do make reports, it is likely that they will not be taken seriously.
Clearly, California and all the other U.S. states need to create and implement programs in order to prevent sexual abuse from occurring and, in the alternative, create a better method for receiving and investigating reports of abuse.
Victim advocate Christina Meneses details one particularly troubling example of long-term sexual abuse of a young woman with developmental disabilities. In the role of representative payee, the woman relied on a man to receive and cash her Social Security Disability benefit check. He therefore had full control over her financial livelihood, which he used to sexually abuse her.
“He would take her away for the weekend and hide her away and sexually assault her for the weekend,” Meneses said, “months and months this went on.” Although the disabled woman tried to report what was being done to her, it took months before someone took her seriously and investigated the situation.
Examples like these may point to flaws in the representative payee program, which has recently come to the forefront in situations such as the disabled adults who were held captive in a dirty basement while their representative payee cashed their SSD checks. But more than that, it indicates that law enforcement officials and disability advocates need to do more to protect vulnerable people.
Source: Fox 2 Now, “Large Number Of Developmentally Disabled Are Sexually Abused,” Betsey Bruce, Dec. 15, 2011