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Abuse and Disabilities

Independence House, Inc. has secured a renewable grant from the MA Department of Public Health and is collaborating with Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD) to offer strategies in the prevention of sexual violence to organizations who serve people with disabilities.

Individuals faced with intellectual and development disabilities make up one of the most vulnerable populations to be sexually assaulted or sexually abused and face a higher risk of being victimized by sexual violence.

In this section:  Newsletters, Videos, Statistics, Community Level Strategy, Resources and a monthly Blog

As part of this collaboration, Independence House and CORD offer workshops and distribute material. Independence House offers a spectrum of resources and services for survivors of sexual and domestic violence who are living with different disabilities, and CORD offers specialized services for individuals with disabilities.

People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

7 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the general population


49% will be sexually assaulted 10 times or more in their lifetime


Only 3% of assaults are reported compared to 23% reported by the general population

Community Level Strategy
A community level strategy is a relatively new approach to the prevention of sexual violence. Independence House and CORD are working with organizations that will support the healthy relationships of the people that each organization serves. 

Each organization will begin on the ground level in taking action to address sexual violence.  Organizations are asked to be BOLD and BRAVE in doing this work and join us to say YES in strengthening their organization to address sexual violence.

What do we mean by a community level strategy for the prevention of sexual violence?
A community level strategy is a process whereby each organization looks at its policies that assess:

  • The possible risk of harm and strengthen identified gaps
  • The need for employees and volunteers to have training about the prevention of sexual violence
  • Employee codes of conduct
  • Screening process for prospective employees and volunteers
  • Physical spaces that reduce the risk of sexual violence
  • Procedures for disclosing sexual violence

Most Recent Blog Post

September 2020 Blog | “Love on the Spectrum”

Netflix recently premiered a 5-part reality series titled Love on the Spectrum. Navigating dating, romance, relationships and sexuality is challenging for any young adult. Adding autism into the mix makes things more complicated. This series explores the challenges that arise as adults with autism navigate this part of their lives. Love on the Spectrum is an opportunity for neurotypicals to better understand adults with autism. It aims to foster empathy and understanding. Viewers will end the series feeling invested in the lives of its stars and wanting to know more. The series allows its subjects to tell their own stories and gives them control over the situations that they are in, offering real insight into their experiences. Each episode draws on a range of emotions in its viewers. We see the struggles that these young adults face, but we also witness their successes. Viewers may tear up with compassion as one star shares their sadness over dating struggles but will tear up with joy during another star’s proposal.

Organizations might be interested in paying close attention to the role of Jodi Rogers in the series. Jodi is introduced as a relationship specialist who works with individuals with autism. In her own words she explains dating on the spectrum as, “Look, it’s not for everybody, which is the case in the general population as well, but what I’ve found is that once people on the spectrum hit adolescence and early adulthood, they desperately want those relationships. The difficulties they’ve had weren’t for lack of warmth but the complex social skills needed to develop and maintain those relationships.” She speaks to the need for agencies to support these types of relationships by fostering the skills needed for healthy dating. Jodi works with several of the show’s stars by helping them navigate the world of romance. As agencies we can learn from her approach and work towards supporting healthy relationships and sexuality in the individuals we are serving.

Whether you are looking for a model of relationship support, want to learn more about relationships on the spectrum or are seeking validation of your own journey, Love on the Spectrum is worth the watch.

For more information, please contact:
Chris Morin, Independence House, Inc., Director of Prevention,Education and Outreach at