How is the movement to support and advance the resources for people with disabilities connected to the movement to end sexual violence?
In 2012, 1.3 million violent crimes, including rape and physical assault, occurred against people with disabilities. People with disabilities are sexually victimized more often than people without disabilities, making them one of the most harmed and vulnerable groups in the country.  Studies show that 49 percent of people with disabilities will experience 10 or more sexually abusive incidents than those without a disability (Sobsey & Doe, 1991).  People with disabilities have become the often silent and ignored victims of sexual crimes.
People with disabilities experience abuse at a higher rate than those without a disability due to a number of factors.  People with disabilities tend to be isolated from the community and rely greatly on their caregivers for basic needs such as transportation and living arrangements, making them easy targets and silent victims of sexual crimes.      
People with disabilities such as other marginalized groups have equal rights for services and advocacy. They are legal protections from discrimination in many settings, such as workplace and education. By promoting equality, empowering differently-abled survivors in creating more inclusive systems, building partnership with agencies that serve those with disabilities, enhancing services for people with disabilities, and raising awareness, anti-sexual violence organizations can take an active stand to support the rights of people with disabilities  
Outreach and community collaboration can continue to improve the use of rape crisis center programs and their effectiveness of these services for survivors of sexual assault with disabilities.  Rape crisis center programs can begin by contacting local agencies that provide disability advocacy, services or resources. These numbers can be found by contacting local service agencies such as Regional Centers. CALCASA’s publication Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault with Disabilities can also prove to be a useful resource. By encouraging cross training on issues of sexual assault and disabilities many agencies that serve people with disabilities can expand their knowledge on rape crisis training.  Collaborating with local agencies by providing handouts, brochures or pamphlets for survivors can be the first steps in making these tools accessible to people living with various disabilities.  Lastly, rape crisis center programs can develop Memorandum of Understanding (MOU’s) that outline clear procedures on accessing agencies in the community that provide services to people with disabilities and continue collaborations that foster growth and discussion around centering survivors with disabilities. 
Written by:
Juliana Beaz
Training and Technical Assistance Specialist