Disabled abuse victims ignored - University of Glamorgan

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Media captionThe Welsh government says it is trying to tackle disability-related abuse

Too little is being done to protect people with learning disabilities from abuse, researchers have found.

The University of Glamorgan study, which was conducted by academics and people with learning disabilities, also found that those who reported abuse were often not believed or supported.

People reported being abused in a variety of settings, including on public transport and in schools.

The Welsh government said it was trying to tackle disability-related abuse.

The research recommends that people with learning disabilities need better education on how to deal with such abuse and how to stay safe.

It also said people who experienced abuse should be given greater access to counselling and therapy and that in all cases reports of abuse should be taken seriously.

Ruth Northway, professor of learning disability nursing at the University of Glamorgan, said the impetus for the research came from the people with learning disabilities.

Ms Northway said people with learning disabilities experience a wide range of abuse, but because they are not educated about the issue, they learn about it from television and the media.

"They also find if they do try and tell other people they are not believed and if they are believed that's not always acted on appropriately," she said.

"Their experience has been that even when they've tried to tell other people about it other people don't always respond in an appropriate way or they are not believed.


"It happens in the street, on public transport, we had people talking about it happening in the playground with children, within the family home - it's a wide range of areas."

As part of the study, researchers analysed the responses of surveys sent to people with learning disabilities. Of 110 surveys sent out, researchers received 107 replies, and face-to-face interviews were also conducted.

Rebecca Pugh, who also worked on the study, said some of the stories told to her had left her horrified.

"I took part in interviews that were one-to-one and they weren't very nice," she said.

"A big issue was domestic abuse, sometimes it was seen as normal to them because they didn't know any other way.

"There was a lot of bullying happening on buses, chewing gum was thrown into their hair, they were called names across the bus."

The findings of the study will be presented to members of the Welsh assembly on Wednesday.

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