It is difficult for most people to relate to the alienation and loneliness that children in our deaf community live with and sadly, children with disabilities are preyed upon at a much higher rate than children without. According to estimates, more than half of the deaf population of children has been a victim of sexual abuse. With deaf children being three times more likely to suffer from abuse than hearing children (1), it is increasingly important that society remain aware of the persistent shadow of sexual abuse that looms over deaf boys and girls.
One in eight people in the United States aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears (2), and for deaf children resources such as schools and churches are vital in helping the individual integrate into society. Presenting an inherent barrier in communication between children and adults is the fact that more than 90% of deaf children are raised in hearing homes. Unfortunately, the rates of abuse for children of deaf or hearing-impaired parents occur at the same frequency. (3)
A dependable environment of open communication and support is essential in the development of all children and is severely lacking in our deaf community. An abused child typically lacks the ability to formulate the thoughts necessary to comprehend and express the trauma they are enduring. For deaf children the requisite sign language to communicate their abuse may be unknown to them or misunderstood by the trusted adults they turn to for help at home or in the schools or churches entrusted with their development.
It is an absolute disgrace how woefully underserved deaf victims of sexual abuse are by our legal system. Paul Mones has dedicated his life to fighting for childhood sexual abuse victims and stands apart from other lawyers in his understanding of the unique marginalization deaf victims in our society face. Paul and his legal team have a proven track record of overcoming the many barriers between deaf victims of abuse and justice. If you or a loved one has been the victim of childhood sexual abuse, it is not too late to seek help. With the knowledge and commitment of an experienced attorney, you can obtain justice and begin to recover from your traumatic past.
- McCarter, Catalina. “Sexual Abuse in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community” https://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/sexual-abuse-in-the-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-community.htm
- Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD; John K. Niparko, MD; Luigi Ferrucci, MD, PhD “Hearing Loss Prevalence in the United States” https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1106004
- Dube, William. “Study: Abuse Rates Higher Among Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children Compared with Hearing Youth” https://www.rit.edu/news/study-abuse-rates-higher-among-deaf-and-hard-hearing-children-compared-hearing-youth