More abuse survivor groups needed

Hundreds of women with learning difficulties who have been sexually
abused lack services, campaigners warned.

While authorities know of about 1,400 people with learning
difficulties abused each year, this only represented the “tip of
the iceberg”, delegates were told.

Nick Peckham, clinical psychologist at Northgate & Prudhoe NHS
Trust, highlighted the need for more survivors’ groups, and said
there was not enough research into the issue.

Maxine Fagg, manager at Beverley Lewis House, one of very few
refuges for abused women with learning difficulties in Europe, said
hundreds of women had “nowhere to go”.

Other delegates called for more services for men with learning
difficulties who have been abused, many of whom found it hard to
bring their cases to court despite recent laws including the Youth
Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

Rebecca Seddon, campaigns and policy officer for learning
difficulty charities Respond, Voice UK and the Ann Craft Trust,
urged staff to make use of laws designed to improve access to
justice. “Now the legislation is there, we need to see a whole
culture change in attitudes in courts and the police to ensure
equal access to justice.”

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