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Asserting yourself

Unfortunately, people living with disabilities are more at risk of getting abused.

Consent

Everyone has the right to say ‘no’.

If you don’t want to do something sexual, you should say ‘no’. And if the other person doesn’t respect that, then it becomes sexual abuse.

People with disabilities are at a higher risk of being abused than their peers. If anyone – a caregiver, a friend, or even a relative – tries to take advantage of your (perceived) vulnerability and force you into a sexual activity you haven’t agreed to, it’s sexual abuse or rape. This is completely unacceptable and a crime.

It’s okay to say that you don’t want to kiss someone. It’s okay if you don’t want to be touched. It’s okay if you don’t want to have sex with your partner – even if you’re married, even if you’re both naked. If you’re forced to have sex after you’ve said ‘no’, that’s rape. This is true for both men and women.

Someone who takes care of you may pressure you into things you don’t want to do because ‘you owe them’. This is not true, and you don’t have to do anything out of a sense of obligation. If your self-esteem is low, it can be more difficult to say ‘no’. Maybe you don’t want to upset the other person, and you want them to like you. But you should never feel that you have to do something you don’t want to. If the other person really cares about you, they’ll accept your choice.

Some people assume that they’re ‘doing you a favour’ by sleeping with you, if you’re disabled. But anyone who thinks like this is only thinking about your disability, not about you as a person.
And it’s not true! You may have a disability, but that doesn’t mean you’re not sexually attractive. You are never obliged to accept anything you don’t want, and you deserve a partner who makes you feel good about yourself.

Dealing with sexual abuse

If you’ve been abused, you need to tell someone. This can be very difficult, and people may not believe you. It’s best to open up to someone you trust, someone you know will be supportive.

As uncomfortable as it will be to talk about it, it’s best to get it out. Not only can you get support to help you get over what happened, but you may be able to save other people from going through the same thing with the same perpetrator.

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