Before my pregnancy with Zy I was running a drama program that included several young adults with disabilities. When I was pregnant with Zy I handed this class over to a friend and colleague. That person has recently been unable to teach, so I have stepped in again, temporarily. As well as the 15 students I know well from the "early days", there are 4 students whom I had not met before. Three of these students require additional support so as to fully participate in class, and that support is provided by someone from a disability service.
Last week, I noticed one of these students displaying slightly inappropriate (sexualised) behaviours towards her support person. This week, the behaviours has escalated to the point where they were impacting upon the class. I spoke with the student and her support person, and to cut a very long story short - the support person had no training as to how to respond to inappropriate behaviours, the student had no sexuality education as to what is and isn't appropriate and the service did not want to know about it. It seemed that the more I tried to talk to the service, the less receptive they were to listening.
I was disheartened by my experience with this service, but surely not all disability service providers in my area are so ignorant when it comes to sexuality education? I called a few other services to ask about their sexuality education programs and/or policies. Not one of them acknowledged sexuality education as something they provide to their clients or staff. Some even laughed at the suggestion that this kind of education is important.
Sexuality education for people with disabilities is something that I used to facilitate (as my job) on a very regular basis, and only stopped because of time constraints. I am utterly devastated that something of such value and importance seems now to be all but non existent. I know used to feel frustrated at the lack of knowledge and understanding service providers, parents and carers had around what sexuality education is and why it is so important - but it was balanced out by the feeling of empowerment I would get from being able to share this information with people.
Now I just feel frustrated.
And I don't get it.
I really do not understand how people can be so ignorant and unwilling to change.
Did you know that 83% of women with a disability will be sexually assaulted in their life time?
Eighty. Three. Percent.
That's more than eight in ten.
I do not understand how people can hear that statistic and not be so disgusted and so outraged that they take action.
I do not understand how people in human services, who's job it is to support and advocate for people, can hear that statistic and not even acknowledge that something has to be done.
So I am in a bad mood, and everything that is wrong with this picture is running around and around in my head.
I feel overwhelmed and dis-empowered and frustrated and angry.
And I have nothing else to offer yet.
When I can turn my thoughts around and find something other than what is wrong with this situation, I'll be sure to post that as well.
But for now, I am in a bad mood.