Vol. XXXI, Issue 4
Fall 2019
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In This Issue
Editor's column
Presidentís message
International Committee update
What's happening in Italy?
Registration and disclosure: Lessons learned or same old song and dance?
International members survey 2018 part 1: Practitioner knowledge, training and experience
International members survey 2018 part 2: Practitioners attitudes to and understandings of community integration
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Exploring a new avenue for sex offender treatment
Incel inside: Understanding involuntary celibates through dating app experiences
International Perspectives on the Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Offenders
Learning Difficulties and Sexual Vulnerability: A Social Approach
ATSA Board of Directors election results
Journal updates for membership
Forum Newsletter Editorial Board
New Membership Coordinator message
Welcome ATSA's newest members
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Contact the editor or submit articles to:

Heather M. Moulden, Ph.D.
Forensic Program
St. Joseph's Healthcare
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
E: hmoulden@stjoes.ca
P: (905) 522-1155 ext. 35539
Learning Difficulties and Sexual Vulnerability: A Social Approach
Reviewed by Becky Palmer

Authored by Andrea Hollomotz

London, UK 192 Pages, 2011, ISBN: 978-1849051675

Available on Amazon for $34.95 in paperback; also available on the Kindle

In this 170-page book, Andrea Hollomotz highlights the need to make changes to the macrosystem in the UK. The systems in place have continually contributed to keeping persons with learning difficulties vulnerable to sexual violence. Hollomotz uses the social model of disability, which emphasizes “the processes when explaining disabled people’s disadvantages.” One of the premises of the social model is that it makes a distinction between impairment and disability.

The author’s research attempts to answer the following questions:

  • What causes increased risk to sexual violence?

  • To what extent can people with learning difficulties be considered sexually ‘vulnerable’?

  • How can they increase their resistance to sexual violence?

Historically, persons with learning difficulties have had their sexuality defined through two contradictory lenses. The first being that they are ‘oversexed’, promiscuous and threatening. While on the other hand they have been defined as childlike and asexual. Neither definition adequately teaches or helps them resist or avoid sexual violence.

In the last part of the 20th Century and forward, institutionalization for persons with learning difficulties dwindled, and families and caregivers, as well as policy makers, have championed the concept of persons with learning disabilities living in a community setting.   

One of the goals of the research in this volume was to be accountable to persons with learning difficulties and have them participate as ‘self-advocates’ in the research process itself.

The author defines numerous scenarios and beliefs that contribute to risk creation for persons with learning difficulties. Among those are teaching stranger danger. Some “interventions that attempt to protect individuals actually reduce self-defence skills.” Furthermore, she advocates for empowerment and self-determination by teaching individuals how to make good choices, how to avail themselves of necessary services, as well as how to report violent acts. Through a series of interviews with persons with learning difficulties, Hollomotz makes suggestions about how to think differently about the programs we develop.

While this book was written by an author in the UK, the challenges faced are similar to those faced here in the US or other industrialized nations. Kudos to the author for helping policy makers and service providers think differently about our attention and intentions when working with persons with learning difficulties.

This book is not a book that you will use in your everyday practice like a treatment manual, but it will likely affirm the work you are currently doing and provide you support to engage policy makers and administration in developing and providing best practice services to individuals with learning difficulties.

About the Author: Andrea is a Lecturer in Social Policy at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Her particular interest in the subject area at hand arose from her experiences of conducting adult protection work in the field.

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