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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sexual Assault on Campus

In The Politics of Autism, I write:
People with disabilities are victims of violent crime three times as often as people without disabilities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics does not report separately on autistic victims, but it does note that the victimization rate is especially high among those whose disabilities are cognitive. A small-sample study of Americans and Canadians found that adults with autism face a greater risk of sexual victimization than their peers. Autistic respondents were more than twice as likely to say that had been the victim of rape and over three times as likely to report unwanted sexual contact.
The book also discusses the growing number of college students on the spectrumAs more ASD people attend college, sexual assault on campus will be a bigger issue. A report from the National Council on Disability:
Sexual assault can be devastating to victims and cause long term physical, psychological, and emotional effects, including depression, post-traumatic stress, thoughts of suicide, flashbacks, and sleep disorders.1
The issue of sexual assault on college campuses has received increased attention since the 2007 publication of the federally funded College Sexual Assault study, which found that 19 percent of female undergraduates were victims2 of sexual assault during their time in college. Another recent federally funded study surveyed 23,000 students across nine colleges and universities3 and found that the prevalence of sexual assault averaged 21 percent for females across the schools.4 Neither of these studies included disability status as a demographic and, as such, no data was gathered on the prevalence of sexual assault on students with disabilities. However, a recent large-scale study on campus sexual assault by the Association of American Universities revealed that college students with disabilities were victims of sexual violence at higher rates than students without disabilities—31.6 percent of undergraduate females with disabilities reported nonconsensual sexual contact involving physical force or incapacitation, compared to 18.4 percent of undergraduate females without a disability.5 This means one out of every three undergraduate students with a disability was a victim of sexual violence on campus.
  • 1 RAINN, Effects of Sexual Violence, accessed November 18, 2017,
  •  2 Although many advocates prefer to use the term survivor to describe an individual who has been sexually assaulted, the term victim is also widely used. These terms are used interchangeably throughout this document.
  •  3 This report focuses on sexual assault at postsecondary institutions—such as colleges, universities, community colleges, graduate and professional schools, and trade schools—we use the term colleges to refer to these institutions.
  •  4 Christopher Krebs et al., Campus Climate Survey Validation Study Final Technical Report (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. January 20, 2016).
  •  5 David Cantor et al., Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct (University of Pennsylvania, 2015) at 35,102.