Date of Paper

5-2013

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Felicia Sy

Abstract

Inspired by Dick Sobsey ‘s early work with disabled victims of abuse and the integrative ecological model, the current study addresses the barriers that sexual assault professionals encounter when working with developmentally disabled victims. The participants of this study are made up of 3 sexual assault female professionals, one being an advocate and two being Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. This study is qualitative in nature and the data was obtained by using a semi-standardized interview. Using phenomenology as a research design, the investigator used qualitative questions to gain understanding of being a sexual assault professional. The data was analyzed by utilizing content analysis and themes were chosen that related to service barriers for the developmentally disabled victim and the perceptions of the sexual assault professional regarding what further training they felt they needed when working with the developmentally disabled. The implications of this study indicate that barriers to providing services to the developmentally disabled victim can be communication, vulnerability as well as others. Further training was suggested for not only sexual assault professionals, but for all professionals that touch the lives of developmentally disabled.

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