chapter  12
Sexual Abuse and Persons with Mental Retardation
Pages 22

Sexual abuse has become a topic of interest for many researchers in psychology and sociology (Finkelhor, 1984). Further, many recent cases have occupied the courts (see Bulkley, this volume) and it has become a popular television news topic. Various forms of sexual abuse have been studied and reported, including rape, incest, and child exploitation. The victim, as well as the offender, has been the focus of prevalence studies on long and short-term effects of abuse, and outcome of treatment. There have been studies of men, women, and children, as well as "special populations," such as prostitutes, juvenile offenders, and drug users. However, to date there have been no studies of sexual abuse of children and adults with developmental disabilities, despite the fact that professionals in the area of sexuality and disability acknowledge that this is an important area of research (Senn, 1989).J This belief is common among professionals, since children and adults with mental retardation may be at a greater risk for sexual abuse due to their general lack of knowledge about sex, their passive nature (which is typically reinforced by staff and parents), and their eagerness to please and be accepted by others (Zigler & Hodapp, 1986).