Lynn Hecht Schafran and Jillian Weinberger of Legal Momentum (a women's legal defense and education fund) say that recent reports from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) underestimate the number of rapes among persons with disabilities and women. BJS says 182,000 rapes were committed in 2008 while Schafran and Weinberger say it was more than 1,000,000.
Speaking for people with disabilities, I am not surprsed. Rape and sexual assualt crimes among the disabled population is likely to be the most rampant of the silent crimes. Crimes occuring with people with disabilities and the elderly in institutionalized care are even more vulnerable and there are no viable data that document such statistics. Sadly, this fact would be very difficult to report since there is no unbiased support mechanism in place for many residents in instutuionalized care to even report the violent crime. Especially if they are threatened to keep it quiet. I would like to see better background checks before hiring employees and impose measures that would prohibit singular contact with residents during the late night hours.
I also would like to see more support from friends and family to step up help people with disabilites speak out and report crimes of violence. No need to feel shameful to ask for help even if we have a "can do" attitude.
I personally know of a physically and emotionally disabled young woman, a wheelchair user who at age 17, was repeatedly raped by a man who lived in the same apartment building for a period of several months in her home while her parents were away at work. She was threatened to keep quiet and not tell authorities or she and her family would be gravely harmed. After she became pregnant, and gave birth to a baby; her secret was exposed. Her family was shocked and reported the incident to the police. The police arrested the rapist, but sadly this young woman "accepted his apology" and he was set free.
Another statistical incidence not reported. Ugh...