Jessica Kingsley Publishing
I found this book thought-provoking and a welcome challenge to established ideas about vulnerability, writes Beth Billington.
The author starts from the social model of disability: an individual may have an impairment, such as an inability to understand complex words, but the disability is caused by systems around them, for example being excluded from accessible information. This distinction shifts responsibility for change and the provision of support considerably, and I wondered how I might integrate these ideas into clinical practice.
Hollomotz bases the book on her research into the causes of increased risk of sexual violence; the extent that people with learning difficulties can be considered sexually vulnerable; and how they can increase their resistance to sexual violence.
She describes how “protective” environments disable individuals further, and emphasises the importance of developing sexual competence and self-determination skills.
She asserts that many people with learning difficulties have few rights to make choices, seek friendships, be fully included in mainstream society and so “sexual violence is merely an extension of everyday invasions”.
Hollomotz makes recommendations for making information on sexuality available, enabling relationships and promoting real social inclusion, and enabling people to report sexual violence.
The book is rich with excerpts from interviews and examples from Hollomotz’s research, adding depth to the narrative and theory. It is a useful resource for anyone working in safeguarding adults, who wants to empower, just protect the service user.
Beth Billington is a clinical psychologist in learning disability services