People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at greater risk of being a victim of sexual abuse and may also be more predisposed to perpetrating sexual abuse. Although the prevalence of sexual abuse among people with ID is difficult to determine, it is clear that there are serious consequences for both victims and perpetrators, and professional support is needed. Psychologists play an important role in the assessment of sexual abuse in both victims and perpetrators and require specific knowledge and skills to execute the assessments. We therefore developed a training course for psychologists aimed at increasing their (applied) knowledge of sexual abuse and the related assessment process in people with ID. In a five-day training course, sessions focusing on theories about diagnostic models were combined with sessions focusing on the assessment of sexual abuse of victims and perpetrators. The effectiveness of the training course was determined in terms of (applied) knowledge via the administration of a study-specific questionnaire including a hypothetical case vignette before, immediately after, and six months after completion of the course. The results show that the knowledge of the psychologists related to sexual abuse and the assessment process for sexual abuse increased significantly, and remained above pre-test level at six-month follow-up. These results are promising, but more research is needed to see if the increased (applied) knowledge in turn leads to application in practice and better care for both victims and perpetrators.
Embregts, P. J. C. M., Heestermans, M., & van den Bogaard, K. J. H. M. (2017). A training course for psychologists: Learning to assess (alleged) sexual abuse among victims and perpetrators who have intellectual disabilities. Sexuality and Disability, 35(1), 39-44. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-017-9476-x