Horror, yes. Disgust, yes. Surprise, no. Like many of you, when I heard that in a Los Angeles court an expert testified that a 9 year old girl with an intellectual disability would not experience trauma because, essentially, the less intelligent you are, the less trauma you will experience. Further he stated that, even though this girl was repeatedly assaulted her disability was a 'protective factor' regarding trauma.
While many people have written, powerfully, about the implications of his testimony and the outrageous contention that people with disabilities don't experience real trauma and emotional pain. I am astounded that this guy even got to testify at all. The acceptance of the question, "Do people with intellectual disabilities experience pain and trauma?" or more bluntly, "Would a 9 year old girl, with an intellectual disability, who is repeatedly sexually assaulted, against her will and without her consent, by a non-disabled peer be able to experience trauma?" is the real outrage.
Does the existence of this man's testimony, no matter the content of the testimony, mean that there is a QUESTION about people with disabilities ability to feel emotional pain, to suffer from trauma, to be hurt by rape or abuse?
Does the sheer fact that and expert was called in to give an opinion, informed or not, about people with intellectual disabilities being fully human and capable of having a fully human response to pain and violation and purposeful hurt mean that there is enough doubt about this fact for there to be a NEED for an expert witness?
Beyond being horrified at what he said, I am horrified that he was there at all!
That someone thought that disability was a 'protective factor' against being hurt and traumatized.
That the presentation of people with disabilities as slightly less than fully human and completely unworthy of being considered victims happened in open court - disturbs me.
I do not have data.
I have experience.
I have seen people with intellectual disabilities weep with anguish when a parent, who'd promised to visit, doesn't show up.
I have seen people with intellectual disabilities heartbroken when they've experienced a break up with a boy friend or a girl friend.
I have seen people with disabilities suffering deep, deep trauma after having been victimized by a staff member.
It never struck me as odd, these things.
I never thought to say, "Hmmmm, I'm surprised at the upset because their disability should be a protective factor in them understanding and therefore reacting to what happened to them.
That others do ... terrifies me.
Yet, outrage ... where is it?