The perpetrators come from the social environment

She knew him from working together in a workshop for the disabled. Petra Martens (name changed) thought nothing of it when she took her colleague to her apartment. But there he raped her twice. The 19-year-old is mentally handicapped due to an early childhood brain injury. Due to a lack of sexual education, she did not know what had happened to her. "She kept quiet at first, but later confided in a counselor," says Astrid Schafers.The head of a project against sexual violence against people with disabilities in Paderborn knows the fate of Petra Martens from her practice. While there are no official statistics, "it is estimated that disabled people are four times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than people without disabilities," says Schafers. The number of unreported cases is high: Every second disabled woman is said to have experienced sexual violence at least once.A topic that has long been taboo. But in the meantime, attention is growing. In the Paderborn district, the Caritas Association, the Social Service of Catholic Women, child and youth welfare services, institutions for the disabled and the district police authority have formed a working group. The project is funded by Aktion Mensch.Martina Puschke is project manager at "Weibernetz", a political interest group for disabled women based in Kassel. Even in her opinion, sexual abuse of people with disabilities is not addressed enough in Germany. Studies from Austria suggest that it is precisely in institutions for the disabled that assaults often occur."An estimated 60 percent of women there are victims of sexual violence," says Puschke.The perpetrators often come from the social environment of the disabled persons. Mostly there are dependencies. The fact that the number of assaults is particularly high in inpatient facilities encourages the self-help organization "Interessenvertretung Selbst bestimmt leben (ISL)" to call for more outpatient assistance for people with learning and mental disabilities."Sexual abuse is about the exercise of power and dominance," says Schafers. There is a great power imbalance, especially in the field of assistance for the disabled, because people with mental disabilities are existentially dependent on support. Lack of sex education among disabled people contributes to the fact that sexual abuse is often not discovered.The project in the district of Paderborn wants to raise awareness of the ie through prevention and counseling. This is also done by means of a puppet theater. Puppeteer Nelo Thies, who has so far performed mainly in kindergartens, will in the future show her plays in homes for the disabled, workshops and schools for the learning disabled. "Arms, legs, belly and butt are just mine, anyway," reads one of her lyrics.The district police in Paderborn hope that the project will lead to more sexual assaults and rapes being reported."Grabbing the breast of a girl with a learning disability is clearly an assault," says detective inspector Sonja Biermann, who is involved in the project.But project leader Astrid Schafers knows from experience that disabled people are afraid to talk about abuse. Petra Martens also did not defend herself and did not report the perpetrator, who was also disabled. "She didn't want anyone to know," says Schafers. Therefore, one goal of psychological counseling is to strengthen the disabled people in their personality. They should learn to draw boundaries with others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.