Myths and Facts

Myth: People with I/DD report sexual abuse to seek attention.
Fact: The vast majority of disclosures are true. If someone tells you they have been victimized, take it seriously and support them.

Myth: If an individual has a history of lying, it is best not to believe them if they tell a story about sexual abuse.
Fact: People who have a history of lying may be at higher risk for sexual violence because the sex offender can exploit the idea that nobody believes them. Someone can lie about things and still be abused.

Myth: Caregivers, parents, staff or other support people should not be involved in the discussion of, or education for the sexuality of the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities whom they care for.
Fact: Talking about sexual assault is not about sexuality, it is about protecting against violence, or seeking services for recovery from violence.

Myth: If a person does not communicate in traditional ways, they can’t tell you that they have been sexually abused.
Fact: People can still disclose sexual harm or trauma. Watch the person’s body, face, emotions and behaviors for signs.

Myth: Perpetrators of sexual violence against people with I/DD are usually strangers to the person.
Fact: 97-99% of abusers are known to their victims. Unfortunately, sex offenders are often caregivers or family members (Balderian, 1991).

Balderian, N. (1991). Sexual abuse of people with developmental disabilities. Sexuality and Disability, 9(4), 323-335.