Intellectual disability, sexuality and sexual abuse prevention: A study of family members and support workers
Date of this Version
Background: People with intellectual disability experience difficulty forming intimate relationships and are prone to sexual exploitation and abuse. This study sought information from people involved in the care of adults with intellectual disability regarding how they supported them in the areas of sexuality, relationships and abuse prevention.
Methods: Semistructured interviews and focus groups were held with 28 family members and paid support workers caring for adults with intellectual disabilities. Interviews and focus groups were audio recorded, transcribed, coded and analysed qualitatively.
Results: Major themes emerging included views on sexuality and intellectual disability, consent and legal issues, relationships, sexual knowledge and education, disempowerment, exploitation and abuse, sexual health and parenting.
Discussion: People with intellectual disability were described as lonely, disempowered and vulnerable to abuse. The sex industry, internet and mobile telephones were identified as new forms of risk. While this study looked at the views of both family members and support workers, the sample was too small to identify any meaningful differences between the two groups.
This document has been peer reviewed.