All survivors deserve compassionate and competent care. An ISVA will make every effort to accommodate survivors with disabilities.
ISVAs recognise that people who are sexually abused and / or assaulted often grow up believing this is normal and in some cases even acceptable. They may grow up not understanding the difference between appropriate and inappropriate sexual behaviour and may have never experienced a consenting sexual relationship as an adult.
For those who have physical disabilities there is also a possibility of being socially isolated. They may have a limited support network, struggle with accessibility to the outside world, or attend appointments without their carer, making accessing help more difficult.
People with disabilities who are reliant on others for assistance may be more vulnerable to sexual violence. The survivor may struggle to speak out about the abuse, as the perpetrator is also often also caregiver. The survivor may fear punishment for speaking out or worry that they will lose what little support they have.
As is true for most people who have experienced sexual violence, there is also the worry that they will not be believed. If the disability affects communication, this could make reporting feel more complex for the survivor. Lack of access to an interpreter, difficulty articulating thoughts or having a limited vocabulary may all contribute to an inability to disclose.
In order to provide support to clients with disabilities an ISVA will ensure that:
- they meet you somewhere that is easily accessible,
- that they support people with communication; for example, accessing support from someone who can sign or lip read,
- the space they meet is appropriate for a guide dog if needed,
- that any handouts / leaflets are available in braille or in a text to voice format if needed,
- they will advocate on their behalf, if needed,
- they record any communication needs clearly and consistently on your file,
- they share your information and communication needs when needed, for example if they are referring you to another service. This will only be done with your permission.