FARMINGTON – SAVES and LEAP presented a free training on “Sexual Assault and People with Developmental Disabilities” on Aug. 9 at the Trinity Methodist Church for the staff of the sexual assault and developmental disabilities services in Franklin County.

The training was based on a workshop presented by the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Mental Retardation Services in Hallowell on June 16. Sue Hall-Dreher, executive director of the Sexual Assault Support Center of Midcoast Maine, was the keynote presenter.

People who have developmental disabilities are at an increased risk of becoming victims of sexual assault. Of the most frequent crimes against people with disabilities, more than 90 percent are sexual offenses.

Research indicates that from 68 to 83 percent of people with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime; this represents a 50 percent higher rate than the rest of the population. The more severely the victim is disabled, the greater the likelihood of abuse. Thirty percent of offenses are committee by family members, 30 percent by friends or acquaintances and 27 percent by service providers (statistics provided by the center, 2003).

The major goal of the training was to increase service providers’ awareness of the sexual victimization of people with mental retardation or other development disabilities. Small groups of workshop participants discussed case studies and developed strategies to provide support for victims and their families.

The services available in the community were discussed, and the services that should be available for victims and their families were brainstormed.

The two groups will continue working together to meet the needs of their clients. For more information, contact SAVES at 778-9522 or LEAP at 778-3443.

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