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Addressing abuse among disabled adults

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Published on 29 March 2023

Autism conference
Autism conference

A conference addressing intimate violence and abuse among disabled adults builds upon previous findings of a major study exposing the adversity autistic people suffer at the hands of someone they know, and the difficulties trying to access support.

Funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Violence Abuse and Mental Health Network, the conference, on April 12, offers an opportunity to share findings from research into supporting autistic adults, and adults with learning disabilities who have experienced intimate violence and abuse.

Details of the conference have been unveiled this week during World Autism Acceptance Week (March 27-April 2).

Conference organiser Dr Amy Pearson, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland, led the study, which examines how we can better support autistic adults who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV).

Autistic people appear more likely to experience intimate forms of violence and abuse, but specialised support is lacking and there is currently very little evidence to underpin what is needed. The findings suggest that many frontline professionals are not adequately trained in working with autistic people who have suffered some form of victimisation or abuse.

Dr Pearson will present her findings at the conference held at The Fire Station in Sunderland City Centre. Dr Helen Williams, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Sunderland, will also present her work, alongside Dr Allison Jobe from Durham University, on access to justice for women with learning disabilities and/ or autism.

“Autistic people experience IPV at an alarming rate, including repeated instances,” says Dr Pearson. “It’s very bleak and we’ve just lifted the lid, more research needs to be done at a national level. It’s essential that we understand the impact of IPV within the autistic population, and how to support autistic adults who have been victimised by familiar others.

“We hope those attending this conference will gain a greater understanding of the common role of victimisation in the lives of autistic people and the trauma that comes with those experiences. We also hope those attending have the opportunity to develop and improve their practice through knowledge sharing and networking.”

The conference provides a platform for fellow academics, students, practitioners, stakeholders and friends of the University to find out a little more about the impact vital research like this is having.

In all areas of research conducted at the University of Sunderland, academics and students seek to offer solutions and answers relevant to those most affected by the issues. Dr Amy Pearson’s work is a great example of how Sunderland’s world-leading research is impacting on society and on the ground.

Over 70% of published research carried out at the University of Sunderland is rated as either world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework results.

The conference, online and in-person, is open to external guests and frontline professionals. To find out more, click on the links below.

Online linkhttps://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ukri-violence-abuse-and-mental-health-network-one-day-conference-online-tickets-539081456147?aff=ebdsoporgprofile