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NPR report uncovers abuse of the disabled

Individuals in Hawaii and throughout the country who have intellectual disabilities are more likely to experience sexual assault according to an NPR report. The report cited government statistics that found that they are assaulted at a rate seven times higher than people who are not disabled. However, changes are being made at the state level to help the disabled get justice. For example, an initiative in California would have provided more funds to prosecute these types of sexual assault cases.

In Pennsylvania, legislation would allow for testimony to be taken outside of court to make the process easier for the victims. In Massachusetts, a proposed registry would keep track of caregivers who engage in sexual assault or other abuse. The names of these people would be added even if they were not currently the subject of legal action. One reason why abuse is not always reported is because disabled individuals don't even know that they are being abused.

Therefore, ideas to combat sexual assault against the intellectually disabled have centered on providing education and training that they may not receive in school. Furthermore, efforts are underway in Minnesota and Florida aimed at teaching people how to spot abuse and to understand the difference between healthy and abusive relationships.

Those who are victims of abuse could experience both physical and mental trauma for the rest of their lives. However, it may be possible to hold an abuser both civilly and criminally liable for his or her actions in a sexual abuse case. An attorney may be able to help a victim obtain compensation in a civil case. It may also be possible to have an abuser barred from providing care to others with disabilities or who are otherwise vulnerable in the future.

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