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       A Guide for Family, Friends and Caregivers  to individuals with developmental disabilities.


  • Physically forced into contact 

  • Threatened, manipulated or tricked into contact 

  • Unable to consent to the activity

  • A service provider engages in sexual contact with a client


  • "Hands-off" offenses:

    • Includes exhibitionism: voyeurism; forced viewing of pornography; sexual harassment and threats

  • "Hands-on" offenses:

    • Includes forced kissing; molesting breasts, genitals, buttocks; oral/genital contact; penetration of vagina or rectum with penis, fingers, or objects 

  • "Harmful genital practices":

    • Includes unwarranted, intrusive, and/or painful procedures in caring for genitals or rectal areas



  • Bleeding, bruising, infection, scarring, or irritation to a person's genitals, rectum, mouth, or breasts

  • Difficulty walking or sitting

  • Sexually transmitted infection or unexplained pregnancy

  • Ongoing, unexplained medical problems like stomachaches, headaches, etc.


  • Any significant change in behavior 

  • Depression, withdrawal, or suicidal feelings

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Sudden avoidance or fear of specific people; specific genders; or situations

  • Shying away from being touched

  • Hints about sexual activity and/or has a new detailed understanding of sexual behavior 


  • Past history of abusive behavior

  • Devaluing/objectifying attitudes

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

  • Pornography usage


Many offenders will groom their victims before the assault, often violating the person's boundariesThis is done over a period of days, weeks, or months in order to 'test the waters' and see how the person will react. Potential indicators of grooming behavior include:

  • Taking a special interest in the person​

  • Giving the person gifts or treats

  • Getting them used to sensual touch by giving the person massages 

  • Setting up times that they can be alone on a regular basis, such as showering the person late at night when others are not around


  • Ask the person about abuse

  • Report the abuse to law enforcement and/or your supervisor 

  • Take the victim to the hospital for an examination by a sexual assault nurse examiner or other doctor

  • Contact your local sexual assault service provider 


People with disabilities, like anyone else will be affected by the trauma of a sexual assault. It may help to tell the person:

  • I believe you

  • It is not your fault 

  • You are not alone


  • Educate individuals about healthy sexuality and sexual assault 

  • Offer and respect choices

  • Teach that it is okay to say no in both abusive and non-abusive situations

  • Teach appropriate boundaries

  • Provide personal care in a respectful and private way 

  • Teach people to tell if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, or if they are assaulted 


  • More than 90% of people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual abuse at some point in their lives

  • 49% of people with developmental disabilities who are victims of sexual violence will experience 10 or more abusive incidents 

  • Only 3% of sexual abuse cases involving people with developmental disabilities are ever reported 


The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape:

Founded in 1975, PCAR works to end sexual violence and advocate for the rights and needs of sexual assault victims. 


PCAR partners with a network of rape crisis programs to bring help, hope and healing around issues of sexual violence to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


PCAR assures that communities have access to quality victim services and prevention education by providing funding, training, materials and assistance to rape crisis programs and resources and training on sexual assault-related issues to professionals across the Commonwealth. PCAR works with media and protections and services to victims of sexual violence, holds offenders accountable, and enhances community safety.   


To learn more about sexual violence or to locate rape crisis centers on PA, visit or call 1-888-772-PCAR (7227).  

National Sexual Violence Resource Center: 

Founded by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape in 2000, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center identifies, develops and disseminates resources regarding all aspects of sexual violence prevention and intervention. For information and resources on sexual violence and prevention, visit

Advocates for Youth: For information on a range of issues such as how to become an activist and peer leader, resources on heathy sexuality and sexual violence prevention, go to​

1 in 6: 1 in 6 helps men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. The organization provides information and support resources on the web and in the community. Visit for more information. 

MaleSurvivor: MaleSurvivor is committed to preventing, healing, and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men through support, treatment, research, education, advocacy, and activism. Visit to learn more.

Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual child Abuse: This book by Mike Lew examines the changing cultural activities toward male survivors of incest and other sexual trauma. The publication offers compassionate and practical advice to survivors. 

Past sexual assault 

If you were sexually assaulted or raped in the past, this experience could still be affecting you and your health. Consider contacting your local rape crisis center for counseling and support. Go to to learn more.

Help is available 

To talk to someone at your local rape crisis center, call 1-888-772-7227 in Pennsylvania, or call the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656-4673 from anywhere in the U.S.

To make a report of suspected child abuse in Pennsylvania, call CHILDLINE at 1-800-932-0313 or call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 from anywhere in the U.S. to learn how to make a report in your states. You can also visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway at for more information. 

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