Sexual assault and adults with a disability

Sexual assault and adults with a disability

Enabling recognition, disclosure and a just response

Suellen Murray and Anastasia Powell

ACSSA Issues No. 9 — September 2008
Sexual assault and adults with a disability

Adults with a disability can face particular barriers to disclosure of sexual assault and the responses to those who disclose are often inadequate. Enabling disclosure and providing the most appropriate responses across public policy, the criminal justice system and the service sector require further and urgent attention. This Issues paper, drawing on international literature as well as consultations with staff of a number of Australian programs, provides clear directions for future research and practice in responding to and preventing sexual assault among adults with a disability.     

Authors and Acknowledgements

Dr Suellen Murray is Senior Research Fellow Global Studies, Social Science & Planning at RMIT University. Her research has examined the history of domestic violence services and social policy concerning domestic violence. She has also worked in a range of positions including those concerned with human services service delivery, research, policy development and program administration.

Dr Anastasia Powell is a Lecturer in Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University where she teaches in deviance and social control. Her research has examined young people’s love/sex relationships and the prevention of pressured and unwanted sex.

To write this Issues paper, we were asked to review the published literature on sexual assault of adults with a disability, particularly in relation to its prevalence, barriers to disclosure and good practice in the area of responding to disclosures. While there is substantial international literature on both prevalence (although, as discussed, typically reliant on poor quality or limited data collection) and barriers to disclosure, there is much less on responses and, in particular, case studies of good practice. To supplement the published literature, we consulted with selected key stakeholders working in this field, listed below. We would like to acknowledge their contributions. The consultations were highly informative and added significant further depth to our understanding of the issues.

Publication details

ACSSA Issues
No. 9
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, September 2008.
20 pp.
Suggested citation:

Murray, S., & Powell, A. (2008). Sexual assault and adults with a disability: Enabling recognition, disclosure and a just response (ACSSA Issues No. 9). Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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