Investigating Sexual Abuse: Findings of a 15-year longitudinal study

Author(s): McCormack, B., Kavanagh, D., Caffrey, S. & Power, A.

Department: St. Michael's House, Dublin

Key Words: Abuse, Disability, Incidence

Journal: Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 18, Part 3, P217 - 227

(31 Jul 2009)
This study analyses 250 allegations of sexual abuse over a 15-year period in a large disability service. Almost half of these allegations were clinically confirmed. Allegations ranged from sexual touch (the most common allegation) to rape, and involved abuse by other service users, family members, staff and members of the public. Most of the abusers were adolescents and adults with learning disabilities, but almost a quarter were by relatives. The most common location for abuse was the family home, then the day service, and then a public place. A notable finding was the variability across time of sexual abuse, with peaks caused by multiple episodes of abuse by a single or interacting groups of abusers.

The researchers advocate legislative protection for bona fides whistle blowers.

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