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Sexual Assault in Disability and Aged Care: Prevention and response in residential services


Not all sexual activity that takes place in residential settings is sexual assault. All people, including people with disability and older people, are sexual beings with the right to sexual expression. Service providers have a responsibility to challenge the myths about people with disability and older people and to support them to express their sexuality.

What is sexuality?

Sexuality is how people experience and express themselves as sexual beings. It can be explained in three parts: orientation (who we are attracted to), behaviour (what we do sexually) and identity (how we see and present ourselves to others).

Sexual trichotomy model. From Catching on: teaching and learning activities. (2000) Department of Education, Employment and Training (Victoria)

Challenging the myths

Some common myths about people with disability and older people are:

Service providers can challenge these myths by recognising the sexual rights of residents (see below) and using these rights as a basis for building policies about relationships and sexuality.

Sexual rights

Every adult has the right:

Adapted from Craft, A. Practice issues in sexuality and learning disabilities. (1994) Routledge

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