UAVDI Support Unit for Victims with Intellectual Disability
People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are particularly vulnerable to different types of abuse. Among the reasons why people with ID are more likely to be victims are their limited access to sexual education programmes; their higher incidence of dependency in relationships; they have very little privacy due to the fact they have to be cared for by others; their lack of social skills such as assertiveness; the fact that they are unfamiliar with good and evil or their rights; and their poor communication skills.
There are other factors too, which contribute greatly to the vulnerability of these individuals in terms of suffering from secondary victimization when they are victims of abuse. Two factors are highlighted due to the consequences of such: poorly adapted law enforcement and judicial documents, procedures, and interviewing techniques, and the lower level of credibility ascribed to the testimonies of these victims.
In 2010, given this helplessness and neglect and being aware that there were no specialized assistance services available for victims of ID, the Support Unit for Victims With Intellectual Disabilities was set up, along with the NO+ABUSO project, under a collaborative agreement with the Guardia Civil [police] and the MAPFRE Foundation [insurance company].
The UAVDI’s three primary areas of activity are:
1) INTERVENTION: with all the people with intellectual disabilities who have been victims of sexual abuse or mistreatment, their families, and the professionals involved. The services we offer are:
- Case study (forensic and clinical), feedback and counselling for decision-making (measures for protection, for filing the complaint, legal advice, etc.).
- Individual, family, and group psychotherapy.
- Services of a facilitator, whose role is to ensure that the victim has access to justice, and equal rights, by making suggestions to court personnel about the appropriate procedural adaptations and by providing the victim with support during law enforcement and court procedures.
- Legal assistance, such as private prosecution or giving advice throughout the criminal proceedings.
2) RESEARCH, which is the core of the project, and the objective of such is to suitably adapt the forensic tools, law enforcement and judicial procedures, and therapeutic instruments that are necessary to work with victims with ID. As a result of the investigations, the first police guide has been written on how to deal with people with ID, along with the first guide for professionals working with ID on how to intervene in cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
3) PREVENTION AND AWARENESS-RAISING: we are working to create spaces (on-site and online) to raise the awareness and train all the professionals who work with people with ID, either directly or indirectly.
For further information, www.nomasabuso.com