Current research on sexual violence perpetrated against individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) focuses on rates of victimization and individual risk factors. This research suggests that individuals with IDD are at a greater risk for sexual violence compared with the general public. At this time, there is no comprehensive theoretical framework to explain sexual abuse risk factors for individuals with IDD. This article describes such a framework by examining how an ecological perspective can be used to understand why individuals with IDD are at increased risk as well as provide a roadmap for how to prevent sexual abuse. An ecological framework, first introduced by Bronfenbrenner in 1979, examines individuals at multiple contextual levels. Current research on sexual violence and adults with IDD is reviewed through an ecological lens. We argue that an ecological approach is necessary for examining the nature of sexual violence and IDD, understanding why individuals with IDD are at a greater risk for sexual violence, and providing insight into how to prevent sexual violence.
Curtiss, S.L. & Kammes, R. (2019). Understanding the Risk of Sexual Violence of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from an Ecological Framework. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, Online First. doi: 10.1111/jppi.12318