Men with disabilities ‘4 times more likely to be sexually abused’

Men with disabilities are more than four times more likely to be victimized by sexual assaults compared to men without disabilities, according to a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher.

Investigators from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health used data from close to 22,000 respondents collected as part of the 2005? Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (MA-BRFSS), which is an annual health survey of noninstitutionalized adults conducted in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Participants were asked (1) whether anyone ever had or attempted to have sex with them without their consent; and (2) whether in the past year anyone had touched them sexually without their consent/despite their objections or had exposed them to nonconsensual sexual situations that did not involve physical touching.

Approximately 13.9percent of men with disabilities reported lifetime sexual violence, compared to 3.7percent of men without disabilities, 26.6percent of women with disabilities, and 12.4percent of women without disabilities. Men with disabilities (5.3percent) were more likely to report past-year sexual violence than men (1.5percent) and women (2.4percent) without disabilities and less likely than women with disabilities (6.3percent).

“Men with disabilities are at a heightened risk for lifetime and current sexual violence victimization,” according to lead investigator Monika Mitra, PhD, Research Scientist, Center for Health Policy and Research, and Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

“The most notable finding is that the prevalence of lifetime sexual violence, completed rape, and attempted rape against men with disabilities was comparable to that against women without disabilities, and past-year rates for men with disabilities exceeded those for women without disabilities,” she added.

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The study has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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