Intellectual Disabilities Abuse

Kansas City Attorney for Intellectual Disabilities Abuse

According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.

The 4.7 million people in America with intellectual disabilities are constantly vulnerable to all kinds of abuse, assault, and exploitation. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice calculates the rate of serious violent crime (rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) for persons with disabilities (12.7 per 1,000) was more than three times the rate for persons without
disabilities (4.0 per 1,000). And these figures are growing.

The sexual assault and abuse of people with intellectual disabilities is considered an epidemic. Not just because of the widespread reports resulting in shocking national statistics, but because these crimes are among the hardest for police to investigate and for prosecutors to win in court – for which there are many possible reasons, including:

  • Victims with intellectual disabilities may have trouble speaking, or not speak at all
  • Victims often have trouble telling precise details or remember accounts in full
  • Victims are often easily confused and uncomfortable in court settings
  • Victims often lack access to support services
  • Victims tend not to come forward and oftentimes are unaware they are being abused

Abuse of people with intellectual disabilities can take many forms. Because these individuals are more vulnerable to circumstance and the influence of others, it is important to recognize the different types of abuse:

  • Physical abuse ranging from hitting and rough handling to forcefully making someone eat faster
  • Sexual abuse in various forms such as inappropriate touching and exposure to sexual assault
  • Social isolation of a person
  • Financial exploitation
  • Emotional and verbal abuse such as threatening to leave the person alone and name calling
  • Neglect involving failure to provide proper food, medicine or a safe, clean shelter, or emotional/social neglect

For people with loved ones with intellectual disabilities, perhaps the most important to protect against abuse is knowing the warning signs, both physical and behavioral. Some of the most common physical signs of abuse are:

  • Bruises (old and new, clustered on one part of body, or on both upper arms)
  • Burns
  • Cuts or scars
  • Marks left by a restraint
  • Imprint injuries (eg., marks shaped like fingers, thumbs, hands, belts or sticks)
  • Spotty balding from pulled hair, malnutrition, or other medical reasons
  • Eye injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Sprains
  • Abrasions or scrapes
  • Vaginal or rectal pain
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or yeast infections
  • Painful urination
  • Abrasions, bleeding, or bruising in the genital area
  • Incontinence in someone who was previously toilet-trained
  • Frequent sore throats
  • Sudden onset of psychosomatic complaints (males most frequently complain of stomach aches while females most frequently report headaches)
  • Sudden difficulty walking or sitting

Common behavioral signs of abuse are:

  • Changes in the way affection is shown, especially if unusual or inappropriate
  • Suddenly fears being touched
  • Sudden onset of nightmares
  • Changes in sleep patterns; difficulty sleeping
  • Sudden regression to childlike behaviors (i.e., bedwetting, thumb-sucking)
  • Sudden unusual interest in or knowledge of sexual matters
  • Sudden aggression
  • Sudden fear of bathing or toileting
  • Sudden fear of a person or place
  • Depression, withdrawal, or mood swings

Common signs of neglect in people with intellectual disabilities are:

  • Dehydration
  • Poor or improper hygiene
  • Sudden or extreme weight loss
  • A smell of urine or feces on the person
  • Sudden or extreme ongoing fatigue
  • Infestations (e.g., fleas, lice, roaches, rodents)
  • Poor skin condition or skin breakdown such as rashes, bedsores, or open wounds
  • Lack of necessary adaptive aids such as glasses, hearing aids, leg braces walkers etc. or improper medication management
  • Lack of adequate or appropriate supervision

If the unthinkable has happened to one of your loved ones with intellectual disabilities in Missouri or Kansas, you need help immediately in order to protect their rights. We can meet with you one-on-one to discuss the situation. Contact our Kansas City attorneys today at 816-866-7711 for a free, no-obligation consultation.