Men and women with disabilities are more likely than those without disabilities of being victims of current and lifetime sexual violence, according to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Monika Mitra, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and colleagues reported that sexual assault efforts, including screening and prevention, should include both men and women, especially those with disabilities.
Mitra and colleagues analyzed data from the 2005-2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which included a sexual violence module.
Results demonstrated that men with disabilities reported lifetime sexual assault (8.8%) more often than men without disabilities (6%). Women with disabilities also reported lifetime sexual assault (25.6%) more often than women without disabilities (14.7%).
Women with disabilities were more likely than men with disabilities and men and women without disabilities to report past-year sexual violence and past-year forced sexual touching, completed nonconsensual sex and attempted nonconsensual sex (P < .0001).
Additionally, men with disabilities reported that 34.2% of sexual violence was perpetrated by a friend while women with disabilities reported that 39.6% of sexual violence was perpetrated by an intimate partner.
"These findings suggest that for both men and women, the perpetrator is most often a non-familial person with whom the victim has more than a passing relationship," Mitra and colleagues said.
The researchers stated the results indicate a need for the inclusion of disability status as a demographic measurement in future research and improved screening.
"Surveillance of sexual violence against those with disabilities could be improved through the consistent and systematic use in population-based surveys of screening questions for disability status, type, and onset/duration," Mitra and colleagues wrote. "The high prevalence of sexual assault among people with disabilities relative to their peers without disabilities found in this and prior studies and the poor health outcomes associated with sexual assault suggest the importance for health care and other agencies that provide services to people with disabilities to screen both men and women regarding sexual assault experiences." – by Chelsea Frajerman Pardes
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.