Men with disabilities 4 times more likely to be sexually abused than men without disabilities

October 11, 2011

Previous studies have documented that women with disabilities are more likely to be sexually assaulted than women without disabilities. A new study published online today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine is the first population-based investigation to examine sexual violence victimization against men with disabilities. Researchers report that men with disabilities are more than four times more likely to be victimized by sexual assaults compared to men without disabilities.

"Men with disabilities are at a heightened risk for lifetime and current victimization," according to lead investigator Monika Mitra, PhD, Research Scientist, Center for Health Policy and Research, and Assistant Professor, Department of and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School. "The most notable finding is that the prevalence of lifetime sexual violence, completed rape, and attempted rape against men with disabilities was comparable to that against women without disabilities, and past-year rates for men with disabilities exceeded those for women without disabilities."

Dr. Mitra adds that "this study also broadened research of such victimization against men with disabilities beyond the context to acquaintances and strangers, as well as family members, intimate partners, and dates. This is particularly relevant for people with disabilities whom earlier studies have suggested are especially likely to experience abuse from caregivers and personal care and other attendants, in addition to intimate partners."

Investigators from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health used data from close to 22,000 respondents collected as part of the 2005-2006 Massachusetts (MA-BRFSS), which is an annual health survey of noninstitutionalized adults conducted in collaboration with the (CDC).

Approximately 13.9% of men with disabilities reported lifetime sexual violence, compared to 3.7% of men without disabilities, 26.6% of women with disabilities, and 12.4% of women without disabilities. Men with disabilities (5.3%) were more likely to report past-year sexual violence than (1.5%) and women (2.4%) without disabilities and less likely than women with (6.3%).

Participants were asked (1) whether anyone ever had or attempted to have sex with them without their consent; and (2) whether in the past year anyone had touched them sexually without their consent/despite their objections or had exposed them to nonconsensual sexual situations that did not involve physical touching.

To determine disability status, respondents were asked whether they had limitations because of physical, mental, or emotional problems, any health problem that required use of special equipment, trouble learning, remembering or concentrating because of a health problem or impairment, or a physical, mental, emotional, or communication-related disability. Those responding yes to any of these questions and whose disability had limited their activities for at least one year were classified as having a disability.

Explore further: Women who experience gender-based violence have higher incidence of anxiety, substance use disorders

More information: The article is "Sexual Violence Victimization Against Men with Disabilities" by Monika Mitra, PhD, Vera E. Mouradian, PhD, and Marci Diamond, MPA. (doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.07.014). It appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 41, Issue 5 (November 2011)

Related Stories

Women who experience gender-based violence have higher incidence of anxiety, substance use disorders

August 2, 2011
Women who reported experiencing gender-based violence, such as rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking, had an associated higher lifetime prevalence of mental health disorders, dysfunction and disability, ...

Researchers call for changing how medical research is done

May 11, 2011
When it first passed 20 years ago, the American Disabilities Act offered hope for closing the health-disparities gap for people with disabilities, but differences still exist. Barring people with limiting physical issues ...

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

Serious health risks associated with energy drinks

November 15, 2017
A new review of current scientific knowledge on energy drinks finds their advertised short-term benefits can be outweighed by serious health risks—which include risk-seeking behavior, mental health problems, increased blood ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.