Learning Difficulties and Sexual Vulnerability

A Social Approach

People with learning difficulties are considerably more likely to experience sexual violence than those without, and for this reason they are often described as 'vulnerable'. However, the use of this label can in fact increase risk.

This book argues that the act of treating adults with learning difficulties as 'vulnerable' and in need of protection strips them of their autonomy and leaves them with fewer of the skills which are needed to protect themselves from harm. Actions, such as segregation and over-protection, can increase 'vulnerability'. The author discusses a range of social processes, including sex education, self-determination, friendships, sexual relationships and social inclusion, and examines the risks and benefits associated with each. Drawing on the everyday experiences of 29 adults, the author illustrates how people with learning difficulties can be capable of safeguarding themselves from harm, and makes a range of suggestions for enabling them to become better equipped at managing risk themselves.

This is an essential book for practitioners working with people with learning difficulties, as well as students and academics in the fields of disability and social work.
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