Last updated: 03.01.16

Sexual abuse of disabled adults in the UK

New research has shown the magnitude of sexual abuse against disabled adults in the UK.

Thousands of disabled adults in the UK have experienced sexual abuse, according to worrying new figures.

The BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme stated that over the past two years, there have been 4,748 reports of sexual abuse against adults with disabilities.

The NSPCC stated that these incidences make up ?the visible peak? of a much larger underlying issue.

The programme sent Freedom of Information requests to 152 councils in England that have adult social services responsibilities. They asked how many reports of sexual abuse against disabled clients had been reported during the years 2013-14 and 2014-15, up to February 16th 2015.

Analysis of the data sent by 106 of the 152 councils revealed that 63 per cent of the cases reported were against people with learning disabilities. The remaining 37 per cent of incidences were against those with physical disabilities.

John Brown, head of sexual abuse programmes at the NSPCC, warned: “We know with sexual abuse that many victims find it difficult to speak out.?

Although the figures did not relate to child victims of such abuse, he added: “We know from research that disabled children and young people are three or four times more likely to be abused and neglected than children and young people who are not disabled.

“Abusers are often very adept at identifying vulnerabilities. And, importantly, we know that it’s less likely for children and young people to be believed as well.”

CEO of charity Respond, Noelle Blackman, told the BBC she had seen ?some horrendous cases? during her time in the job.
“Certainly from the age of 13,” she added, “but sometimes younger”.

She continued: “What we’re really noticing at the moment is young people being abused by other young people.”

Ms Blackman added that often the perpetrators themselves do not have a learning disability, and commonly there will be a gang of boys who do not have a disability grooming girls who do. She described this as ?a worrying trend?.