Women with disabilities, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or so­cioeconomic class, are assaulted, raped, and abused at a rate two times greater than women without disabilities (Cusitar, 1994; Sobsey, 1994). They may be more vulnerable because of their diminished ability to fight back. In addition, mentally handicapped per­sons may have a more difficult time reading the preliminary cues that would alert them to danger. The impact of a rape may be very intense for these people because of a lack of knowledge about sexuality, loss of a sense of trust in others, and the lack of knowl­edgeable staff who can effectively work with these victims. In many cases, women with severe mental disabilities who have been sexually assaulted may not realize that their rights have been violated and, therefore, may not report the crime. Because of these fac­tors, the intensity and length of time of RTS is usually prolonged.


Studies have found that between 68% and 70% of female prostitutes have been victims of rape (Farley & Barkan, 1998; Silbert, 1998). Because a prostitute’s job is to provide sex in exchange for payment, the question of consent is often difficult to judge. Also, be­cause of the general disapproval of prostitution, a prostitute who reports rape is often treated with disdain. People tend not to believe that she was raped or may think that she is angry because she was not paid. Many prostitutes who are raped begin to question their involvement in prostitution. Believing and trusting her experience and performing a comprehensive medical checkup are imperative.

Women With DisabilitiesQuestion: Why do prostitutes care if they are raped? Don’t they just sell it anyway? I thought it was just like another customer who re­fused to pay.

Prostitutes agree on a price in exchange for sexual activity. When a man has an agreement with a prostitute and then rapes her—which would be forceful and against her will—this simply reinforces the idea that every man has the right to a woman’s body. Rape does not have anything to do with the availability of sex. These men are taking what they believe is theirs, using force and doing it without the woman’s consent. Prostitutes also take an enormous risk in their pro­fession because rapists know that there is little chance that any retribution will follow.