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Responding to Crimes against Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: An Historical Perspective with Recommendations for Future Action


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Title: Responding to Crimes against Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: An Historical Perspective with Recommendations for Future Action

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Responding to Crimes against Individuals with
Developmental DisabilitiesAn Historical
Perspective with Recommendations for Future Action
  • Nora J. Baladerian, Ph.D.
  • Project SAVE Conference
  • Arc of Albuquerque
  • Embassy Suites Hotel and Spa
  • December 6, 2006

  • After Child Abuse 1962
  • Before the 1973 Rehab Act
  • Before the 1991 ADA
  • Before APS Elder Abuse 1978

Learning about Violence Against People with
  • Meeting the need for one
  • Discovering the needs of many.

Child Abuse
  • A hidden national problem until 1962 when C.
    Henry Kempe published his findings of X-Rays
    confirming prior injuries in children
  • Demonstrating that such injuries could not have
    occurred accidentally
  • Illuminating a pattern of abuse.

Sexual Abuse Rape
  • Beginning awareness of the pervasiveness of the
    problem of rape among women of all ages
  • Establishment of rape treatment centers
  • Learning about sexual assault led to awareness of
    sexual harassment

Domestic Violence
  • Awareness that violence of any kind within a
    relationship is violence
  • Beginning of awareness that violence by loved
    ones is still violence
  • Awareness of date-rape
  • Violence by care providers against individuals
    with disabilities not recognized until the 90s.

Elder Abuse
  • Adult Protection Services focused on seniors
  • Adult Protection Services include adults with
    severe disabilities
  • Majority of efforts are on elders

Abuse of Children Adults with Disabilities
  • Beginning recognition in the early 80s
  • First National Conference on Abuse Disability
    1986 at St. Johns Hospital, supported by
    Westside Regional Center

Responding to Crimes involving individuals with
cognitive and/orcommunication disabilities
a. Law Enforcement b. Prosecution c.
Protective Services d. Victim's ServicesWe
all need to know basic information.
Prevalence of Violence Against People with
  • How many are there?
  • People with Disabilities are said to constitute
    approximately 20 of the population, with 10
    having severe disabilities (DOL)
  • There are current increases in certain types of
    disability due to
  • Violence/Intentional Injury - Longer life spans
  • - Improved medical care - Accidents

Who are People with Disabilities?
  • People born with disabilities
  • People who acquired disabilities as children
  • People who acquired disabilities as adults (TABs)
  • People who acquired disabilities as a result of
    domestic violence
  • People who acquired disabilities as a result of
    criminal behavior by others
  • People who acquired a disability by other means

Data on Prevalence of Abuse shows that
  • Children with Disabilities are
  • 3.4 times more likely to be abused than others
    (Sullivan, 2001)
  • 1.7 times more likely to be abused than others
    (Westat, 1991)
  • 4-10 times more likely to be abused than others
    (Garbarino, 1989)
  • Adults with Disabilities are
  • Equally as likely to be abuse victims as the
    generic population (Nosek, 1999) BUT
  • The extent of the abuse is much worse for women
    with disabilities.
  • Have equal vulnerability as children with
    disabilities (Baladerian,, 2001 anecdotal) (Why
    would it be different, since vulnerability
    transcends age categories)

  • Powers et. al. (2002) study found that of women
    with physical and cognitive disabilities
  • 67 experienced physical abuse in their lifetime
  • 53 experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime
  • These are approximately twice the rates in the
    non-disabled population
  • Nosek, Young Rintala (1995) study found of
    women with physical disabilities
  • 62 experienced some form of abuse in their

Other studies show
  • Increased rates of abuse by both men and women
    with disabilities from 31-83
  • For women with mental retardation other
    intellectual impairments rates from 40-90
  • 5 million vulnerable adults (NAS, Petersilia,
  • 2 million elders
  • 1 million children (generic)

Why is this important when we are talking about
adults Research shows that adults abused as
  • Have ongoing sequellae that impact physical,
    psychological and social functioning
  • Dr. Felitti found that gt80 of those presenting
    for General Practice internal medicine concerns
    experienced childhood maltreatment. His study
    showed that the long term impact of childhood
    maltreatment is almost completely unrecognized in
    the health care community.
  • Are more likely than others to become abuse
  • Are less likely to have resources to report and

Reducing the Risk of Abuse
  • This is the responsibility of the systems serving
    individuals with disabilities, not individuals
    with disabilities
  • Yet, each individual should be encouraged to
    develop their own IRP, Individual Response Plan
    for attempted or completed assaults or other
    crimes. (Use Risk Reduction Planning Guides)


2. Barriers to effective service
  • A. Lack of experience, exposure and education
    among criminal justice professionals with
    individuals with disabilities
  • B. Myths, stereotypes
  • C. Negative cultural attitudes that pervade our
    culture (jury pool)

Barriers to Effective Sensitive Interviewing
of individuals with Intellectual and/or
Communication Impairments/Differences
  • Lack of information about mental retardation
    other (developmental) DisAbilities, and thus
  • Cultural and informational differences due to to
    segregation, exclusion, and the disability.
  • Unexamined myths and stereotypes that result in

Barriers to Effective Sensitive Interviewing
  • Devaluing, dehumanizing and distancing.
  • Limited or lack of personal contact with
    individuals with similar backgrounds.
  • Belief that individuals with mental illness,
    impairment or communication differences cannot be
    effectively or reliably interviewed.

Common Preconceptions about Individuals with
Developmental DisAbilities
  • Cannot remember
  • Make up stories to get attention
  • Will never be a credible witness
  • Cannot understand enough
  • Cannot be understood by the interviewer
  • Are not really necessary as a witness
  • Will later change their story are therefore
    unreliable...they were lying then or now.

Favorite Myths Stereotype Concept
  • Deviancy Evil
  • Contagion
  • Spread
  • Innocence
  • Wildness
  • Shame
  • Cannot distinguish the truth from a lie
  • Cannot understand the consequences for lying
  • Dont have a sufficient or correct vocabulary to
    describe the abuse.
  • Alternative methods of communication cannot be
  • Not bright enough to repeat their story.

3. Overcoming barriers and equipping criminal
justice professionals with the information and
skills they need to assure equal access to their
services for individuals with disabilities.
  • Information about people with disabilities
  • Memory is not affected
  • Memory for trauma is the same
  • Ability to describe the trauma may be
    different but adequate
  • How to work with individuals with disabilities
  • using correct skills for communication
  • using correct interaction skills
  • using correct preparation skills

Major Issues
  • Issues that interfere with effective response
  • Dos and Donts while interacting with people
    with disabilities
  • Quality Service
  • Getting Disclosures
  • Preventing Abuse
  • Responding Investigating
  • Intervention, Interviewing Prosecution
  • Next Steps After 1st Response
  • Assuring Proper Treatment
  • Locating consultants
  • Staying up-to-date

Dos Donts
  • Use preferred language both in and out of earshot
    of individuals with disabilities, and in writing.
  • Talk to the survivor not about her with others in
    her presence
  • Dont touch!
  • Dont talk down or infantalize
  • Dont touch the wheelchair
  • Explain what you are about to do
  • Use Plain English!
  • Dont talk to the interpreter, talk to the

Wheres the rule book when you need it
  • Attending the Respectability Conference

Quality Service
  • Make sure your staff is TRAINED to provide
    effective and sensitive services to clients with
    disabilities not any willing provider aka
    warm body will do.
  • Use certified staff where certifications are
  • Conduct client evaluation surveys for
    self-assessment and service improvement guide.

Getting Disclosures so we can provide supportive
  • Using Abuse Screening Tools
  • What is the purpose of asking? Know this for
    your agency and for your self.
  • What supportive services can you immediately
    offer? Know your referrals, make the appointment
    for the client. This helps keep up with changing
    phone numbers agency availabilityas well as
    relieves the client of added burdens.
  • What linkages do you have with the community to
    assure access to supportive services
    (availability, transportation, confidentiality,
    accessibility, trained personnel)?
  • Issues of mandatory reporting
  • Care not to interview when that interview may
    ruin the case for legal prosecution.

Responding Investigating
  • The DCFS or APS hotline receive reports of
    suspected abuse.
  • The police or sheriff in a locality may receive
    the initial report
  • They SHOULD/COULD ask if the individual has a
    disability...this would
  • Prepare the individual who will respond to the
    report to use disability-specific protocols
    call for assistance as needed, for example
    American Sign Language and other interpreters.
  • Assist in the development of a data base of
    reported cases referred for first response

Interviewing, Intervention Prosecution
  • The first responder should interview the victim
    others present, determine next step for the
  • Interview SHOULD follow normal legal protocols
    accommodations for the disability of the victim
  • Prosecutors SHOULD be trained in issues of
    disability to address concerns such as witness
  • Intervention SHOULD involve a multidisciplinary
    team providing specialized information
    resources for both the victim/family the team.

Next Steps AFTER 1st Response
  • Contacting the Victims Assistance Advocates
    office to facilitate first contact for the
    survivor, and advising them to assure that an
    interpreter or other needed accommodation will be
    readily available
  • Identify the needs the survivor wants to address
    first, provide for those needs
  • Where necessary, advocate for the survivors
    access to generic and specialized services.

Assuring Proper Treatment for Victims of Violence
with Disabilities
  • ADA Requires Accommodation to the (mental health
    )Patients disability
  • Mental health treatment for sexual assault
    victims with cognitive Disabilities or
    developmental Disabilities (autism, mental
    retardation) requires that the specialist
    providing (child) abuse or sexual assault
    treatment also be trained and skilled in working
    with people with Disabilities
  • The treatment may require many sessions over
    time, shorter sessions, adaptive equipment and
    Certified Interpreters unless the therapist is
    fluent in the signing or other communication
    method used by the patient
  • The treatment will require involvement with the
    family (as secondary victims) to reinforce the
  • The team will need to collaborate with others in
    the community with whom the patient is or should
    be involved
  • Understanding that trauma will not express itself
    in the same way in people with some
    Disabilities...this does not mean no trauma has
    been felt.

Issues that interfere with effective response
  • The myth of informed consent for sex, rather
    than intervention for non-consensual sex.
  • The withholding of sexual rights for people with
    Developmental Disabilities
  • A false belief that Sex education does not
    require formal teaching preparation
  • This is a BIG area of concern, which is why there
    are certification programs. One should be
    CERTIFIED to teach any subject, particularly one
    fraught with such controversy, misinformation,
    disinformation, and entwined in morality, ethics
    and law. One can become CERTIFIED as a sex
    educator, sex counselor or sex therapist.
    Allowing non-certified individuals to teach is
    yet another demonstration of the lack of value
    given to individuals with Disabilities
  • Sex Education is not the same as sexual assault
    awareness. Nor is sex education clinical
    psychotherapy OR sexual assault or trauma
  • Using abuse awareness programs that address
    stranger danger is a gross misuse of time and
    money since 99 of the problem is missed.

  • A frequent response to sexual assault is to
    provide sex education. Thus, Noras Maxim
  • Sex Education
  • Is to
  • Sexual Assault
  • As
  • Budgeting Training
  • Is to
  • Armed Robbery

Assuring Proper TreatmentakaHow to find
qualified consultants?
  • Use the resources of the Disability Abuse
    internet listservs
  • Contact Arc Riversides CAN DO project staff
  • Visit the CAN DO website
  • Contact the disability service agency in your
    area (ILC or the State or National ILC
  • Contact NADD for suggestions in your area
  • Contact the UAP/UCE in your area
  • Contact the ICAD listserv

Arc-Riverside Resources
  • Online Conference
  • Listserv
  • Downloadable documents, power point
    presentations, links to others
  • DVD Victims with Disabilities The Forensic
  • Curriculum Children with Disabilities The
    First Response

Resources from Dr. Nora
  • SURVIVORS Guidebook - in 3 volumes
  • For those who read best with few words
  • For readers who learn with pictures
  • For parents/advocates of the survivor (Blue book)
  • Risk Reduction Guidebook (Pink Book)
  • Forensic Interviewing Guidebook (Green Book)
  • FACTS Forensic Assessment of Consent to Sex
  • Treatment Interviewing Guidebook (Brown Book)
  • The Rules of Sex For those who have never been
    told. (HOT PINK book)

Arc Riverside Resources
  • Online Professional Conference available ANYTIME
    for you at
  • Downloadable power point presentations, articles
    other documents at our CAN DO site
  • JOIN our listserv for 24/7 support info
  • Find the link to our new First Responders
    Curriculum on Children with Disabilities

OVC Video
  • The Time is Now
  • Meet us Where We Are
  • Available at no charge from the Office for
    Victims of Crime
  • OVC Resource Center 1 800 627 6872
  • TDD 1 877 712 9279

The End!
  • Please stay in touch !!!
  • By visiting
  • By email
  • CAN Do! Project
  • 2100 Sawtelle Blvd. 303
  • Los Angeles, CA 90025
  • 310 473 6768 x2 (Office)
  • 310 996 5585 (Fax)