Author Affiliation

Department of Social Work, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Document Type

Policy Advocacy Brief

Publication Date


Issue Statement/Executive Summary

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have some of the highest rates of sexual violence of any group—at least 7 times the rate for people without disabilities. (6) Attempts to alleviate this problem have been unsuccessful and based on the Medical Model of Disability, which views people with I/DD as inherently vulnerable and in need only of protection. Viewing people with I/DD as inherently vulnerable further stigmatizes them and increases dependency on others, instead of fostering capabilities and independence. Minnesota needs to move beyond taking a protective “recognize, report, and respond” approach, to taking a comprehensive approach to sexual violence prevention. We must invest in an array of Primary Prevention and Risk Reduction strategies to address the serious and pervasive problem of sexual violence perpetrated against children, adolescents, and adults with I/DD. Primary prevention and risk reduction need to start early with children and their caregivers in the places where they live, learn, and play to teach skills for self-advocacy, healthy relationships, distinguishing harmful caregiving from respectful caregiving, where to report crimes, and where to get help. We need to provide education and support self-determination through self-advocacy of people with I/DD as equal partners in our comprehensive approach. (2) We need to create change in cultural attitudes, norms, and policies to promote opportunity, freedom to make meaningful choice, inclusion, self-determination, and increased quality of life for all people with I/DD. Every person has a right to safety and a right to live their life free of sexual violence. At the forefront of Minnesota’s comprehensive approach must be the voices of people with I/DD.


Social Work



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.