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Disabled men at higher risk of sexual abuse than non-disabled men

October 11, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Disabled men may be more at risk of sexual assault than men without disabilities, a study finds.
Disabled men may be more at risk of sexual assault than men without disabilities,… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Men with disabilities may be particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse, a study finds, and much more likely to report sexual violence over their lifetime compared with men who aren't disabled.

The statistics are part of a study released online Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that surveyed 25,756 men and women who were part of a regional health survey. Among the participants, about 21% had a disability. Part of the survey focused on sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, and unwanted sexual touching and sexual exposure over the past year as well as over a lifetime. While other studies have documented sexual abuse against disabled women, less is known, the authors said, about disabled men.

About 13.9% of men who had a disability reported lifetime sexual violence, while 3.7% of men without disabilities reported the same. Among women with disabilities, 26.6% said they experienced lifetime sexual violence compared with 12.4% of women who weren't disabled.

Men who had disabilities were more likely than non-disabled men to report rape and attempted rape over their lifetime, and were as likely to report those attacks as non-disabled women. Overall, disabled men were 4.4 times more likely to report lifetime sexual violence than men who were not disabled.

The study also revealed that perpetrators of this violence weren't just intimate partners, but also strangers, acquaintances, family members and dates.

"This is particularly relevant for people with disabilities whom earlier studies have suggested are especially likely to experience abuse from caregivers and personal care and other attendants, in addition to intimate partners," said lead author Monika Mitra of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in a news release.

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