She wanted help after a sexual assault. We connected her with resources. #AdvocacyMatters

May 5, 2017 / #AdvocacyMatters

Hands of woman doctor comforting hands of woman patient

By some estimates, more than 40% of people with disabilities have been sexually assaulted, including 34% of people with developmental disabilities. Often, their cases are not treated seriously by law enforcement because they are not seen as credible witnesses or because of the stigma of their disability, as with mental illness. That can keep the victims from getting support services they need and the perpetrator from seeing justice. Disability Rights Ohio’s Victims of Crime Advocacy (VOCA) program works with people with disabilities to help them navigate the criminal justice system and get them the support they need.

“Brenna” was a patient at a psychiatric hospital who was sexually assaulted by a staff member. The nurse on duty refused to do a rape kit. She also refused to allow the victim to go to the medical hospital, where she would be connected with counseling services. Brenna called DRO for help.

DRO’s VOCA attorney called the psych hospital’s police officer, who refused to help because it was the end of his shift. Next she called the state police, who agreed to meet her and Brenna at the medical hospital to ensure a rape kit was performed. While at the hospital, the attorney connected Brenna with counseling services, as she’d requested. Though Brenna did not wish to press charges, our attorney let her know that we would be available to help if she changed her mind.

DRO is committed to helping people with disabilities who are victims of crime know more about their rights. For more information, read our resources Know Your Rights: Understanding Your Rights as a Victim of Crime with a Disability and Sexual Violence and Disability: Understanding Your Rights.

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