Women with intellectual disabilities: A study of sexuality, sexual abuse and protection skills

Gillian Eastgate, Mieke L. van Driel, Nicholas Lennox, Elly Scheermeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Sexual abuse and abusive relationships are known to be especially common in people with intellectual disability. This study explored how women with intellectual disability understand sex, relationships and sexual abuse, the effects of sexual abuse on their lives, and how successfully they protect themselves from abuse. Method: Semistructured narrative interviews with nine women with mild intellectual disability in Queensland, Australia. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, coded and analysed qualitatively. Results: Major themes that emerged were: sexual knowledge and sources of knowledge; negotiating sexual relationships; declining unwanted sexual contact; self protection strategies; sexual abuse experiences; and sequelae of sexual abuse. Discussion: Most participants reported unwanted or abusive sexual experiences. They described sequelae such as difficulties with sex and relationships, and anxiety and depression. They described themselves as having inadequate self protection skills and difficulty reporting abuse and obtaining appropriate support. Their understanding of sex was limited and they lacked the literacy and other skills to seek information independently. It is important for general practitioners to be aware of the possibility of sexual abuse against women with intellectual disability, and to offer appropriate interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-230
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Volume40
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

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Sex Offenses
Sexuality
Intellectual Disability
Mandatory Reporting
Interviews
Queensland
Negotiating
Disabled Persons
General Practitioners
Anxiety
Depression

Cite this

Eastgate, G., van Driel, M. L., Lennox, N., & Scheermeyer, E. (2011). Women with intellectual disabilities: A study of sexuality, sexual abuse and protection skills. Australian Family Physician, 40(4), 226-230.
Eastgate, Gillian ; van Driel, Mieke L. ; Lennox, Nicholas ; Scheermeyer, Elly. / Women with intellectual disabilities : A study of sexuality, sexual abuse and protection skills. In: Australian Family Physician. 2011 ; Vol. 40, No. 4. pp. 226-230.
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Eastgate, G, van Driel, ML, Lennox, N & Scheermeyer, E 2011, 'Women with intellectual disabilities: A study of sexuality, sexual abuse and protection skills' Australian Family Physician, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 226-230.

Women with intellectual disabilities : A study of sexuality, sexual abuse and protection skills. / Eastgate, Gillian; van Driel, Mieke L.; Lennox, Nicholas; Scheermeyer, Elly.

In: Australian Family Physician, Vol. 40, No. 4, 04.2011, p. 226-230.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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