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Webinar on Addressing Sexual Assault Against People with Disabilities

May 22, 2023

Wednesday, June 14, 2023 | 3:30-5:00 PM ET

People with disabilities, especially those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), experience sexual assault at much higher rates than nondisabled people. They also encounter challenges receiving care and support services due to pervasive accessibility barriers. It is important to hear directly from individuals with disabilities who are survivors of sexual assault and learn their recommendations for how to improve the support system. 

To raise awareness of these issues, ACL and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health will host an equity-focused webinar on sexual violence against people with I/DD: "Survivors’ Circle: A Conversation With People With Disabilities About Sexual Violence and How to Address It." The webinar is a collaborative effort between:

  • Administration for Community Living (ACL)
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH)
  • Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Activating Change — a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the visibility of the justice issues people with disabilities face

The webinar will highlight the prevalence of sexual assault in the disability community. It will focus on the perspectives of sexual assault survivors with I/DD who will discuss their experiences, the barriers they encountered when seeking support, and the recommendations to improve access to care and justice. The target audience is broad and includes organizations serving people with I/DD, organizations serving survivors of sexual violence, and victim advocates and prevention specialists, plus partners and grantees from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other government agencies.

This webinar is approved for 1.5 continuing education hours through the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP) and DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP). Please contact Marlo Brooks for questions regarding the CEUs.

For more information on this subject, see the April 2023 ACL blog post, "Preventing and Addressing Sexual Assault of People with I/DD."

Registrants will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar. The webinar will include real-time captioning and ASL interpreting. If you need any additional accommodations or have questions, please email Elizabeth Leef.


Webinar Recap:

On June 14, ACL and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health hosted an equity-focused webinar on sexual violence against people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD): "Survivors’ Circle: A Conversation with People with Disabilities About Sexual Violence and How to Address It." More than 1,100 people attended the webinar from places all around the world.

A series of distinguished speakers kicked off the event. Jill Jacobs, Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities at the Administration for Community Living, welcomed attendees to the webinar. Cailin Crockett, Senior Policy Advisor to the White House Gender Policy Council, presented about the work the White House is doing to combat sexual assault, such as the recent release of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. Kara Ayers, Director of the National Center for Disability, Equity, and Intersectionality, gave an overview of data and details about the sexual assault against people with I/DD. Lynn Rosenthal, HHS Director of Sexual and Gender-based Violence in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, introduced the panel of sexual assault survivors with I/DD,

The focus of the webinar was hearing the lived experiences of three survivors of sexual assault who have I/DD, in a panel moderated by Nancy Smith, Director of Activating Change. Kecia Weller, Cindy Bentley, and James Meadours shared their stories, describing the trauma they faced and explaining their ideas for how service providers can better support survivors with disabilities. Some of the panelists were assaulted by people they knew and trusted, while others experienced assault in long-term care institutions, demonstrating the widespread risk of assault people with I/DD face. They all went through their own healing journeys that continue to this day and they engage in sustained advocacy for better support for survivors with I/DD like themselves. The panelists said service providers must treat survivors with disabilities with the respect, dignity, and empathy they deserve. They also emphasized the importance of service providers believing survivors with I/DD who report assault and ensuring that resources and reporting methods are provided in accessible formats.

The webinar ended with a list of resources about sexual assault and confirmation of continuing education credits. Attendees were given the option to opt into an email list about future events on this topic. We thank the speakers and panelists for their candor and bravery.

Webinar materials:

Last modified on 07/21/2023

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