Responding to People Who Have Been Sexually Abused
Guest Post by Karen Fry, Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Many of you may have listened to the NPR series “Abused and Betrayed” earlier this year, which reported on sexual abuse of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Here is information on how this affects people’s behavior and what care providers and church families can do.
When someone with I/DD is assaulted, their behavior changes. Often it looks like the person is being uncooperative or aggressive. Care providers are not likely to know that a traumatic event has occurred, especially when the victim has communication difficulties.
With this in mind, care providers must address the undesirable behavior in a manner that presumes it is a reaction to a traumatic event, either past or current. Typical behavioral changes that might occur after sexual assault may include: incontinence, refusals to go into certain areas, refusals to be with certain people, difficulty sleeping, crying, yelling, fearfulness, hypervigilant, nightmares, physical aggression, property destruction and self-injurious behavior; although the behavior change could be anything.