This month’s TA question from the month from our colleagues at vawnet.org highlights ways in which advocates can improve upon their existing abilities to provide resources and services to survivors who are non verbal:
Our legal system, like many other social systems, operates within an abelist construct. Ableism is a systematic form of oppression that privileges people who are able-bodied over people with disabilities. A system like this is not universally or equitably accessible to many people. Working with a person who is nonverbal challenges some of the typical approaches to investigating and prosecuting a criminal case. In cases of sexual violence, where we know that people with disabilities are at increased risk of victimization (Powers, Hughes, Lund, & Wambach, 2009), investigators and prosecutors commonly rely on the verbal or written reports or testimony provided by the victim. In some cases, a person’s cognitive, developmental, or physical disability can make it difficult or impossible to speak or write.