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ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

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Be Safe: General Intervention Resources

Overview

These resources are designed to provide information and tips on how to provide support to individuals with autism who may have experienced sexual abuse or assault. There are general resources that are appropriate for all ages and developmental levels, as well as specific resources for caregivers, professionals and individuals with autism.

Understanding Sexual Assault and Abuse

Defining Sexual Abuse or Assault

Sexual assault is the term used when an individual over the age of 18 experiences unwanted or forced sexual touching or activity.

Sexual abuse is used when the victim is a child under the age of 18. Sexual abuse is sometimes also used when referring to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are victimized.

Examples of sexual assault or abuse include:

  • Unwanted touching or any part of the body
  • Forced kissing, touching or other sexual acts
  • Removing clothes without asking
  • Forcing an individual to look at pornography
  • Offender exposing themselves to an individual

If someone touches or forces someone else to participate in a sexual activity they do not want, it is sexual assault or sexual abuse.

Symptoms of Abuse for Individuals with Autism

  • Increased self-injurious behaviors
  • Increased self-stimulatory behaviors
  • Decreased ability to communicate
  • Wanting to stay where the incident happened
  • Acting as if in a favorite cartoon, movie, or story
  • Increase in disruptive behaviors

Perpetrators of Sexual Assault or Abuse

Perpetrators of sexual assault are often people who have a personal relationship with the victim, such as a husband, wife, partner, family member, provider or caregiver.

Sometimes strangers sexually assault others, but this is not as common.

It’s important to watch for warnings of abuse in your personal relationships, such as if the other person:

  • Hitting or touching in ways the person doesn’t want to be touched
  • Calls the person names or insults them
  • Tells the person they can’t talk to their friends or family members
  • Refuses to be their friend or partner unless they do things they don’t want to
  • Denies the someone things they need unless they do things that they want
  • Forces someone to spend time with them
  • Refuses to help do things around the house when they are supposed to help
  • Refuses to help someone eat, drink, or go to the bathroom even though they are supposed to help do those things

All of these things are signs of abuse. There are other actions that may also be abuse. Just because a sign of abuse does not appear on this list does not mean it is not abuse.

Family members do not have the right to hurt people or make them feel terrible just because they are related. Individuals have the right to control their own body and their own life.

Sexual assault doesn’t always involve violence. The perpetrator may use force, manipulation, bribes, threats, pressure, or tricks.

How often does it happen?

The rate of sexual assault has fallen every year since the 1990’s, but hundreds of thousands of people still experience assault or abuse every year. Individuals who have been diagnosed with autism may be at greater risk for being victims of sexual assault or abuse.

Why does it happen?

There is no single reason why people sexually assault or abuse others. However, there are some things that are more common among people who sexually assault or abuse others:

  • Negative views about the people they assault
  • False beliefs that violence is a good thing
  • False beliefs that sexual assault or abuse doesn’t hurt others
  • Low self-esteem and feeling worthless
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Experienced abuse when they were children
  • Are unable to form healthy relationships
  • Like to control others

Offenders who target people with autism and intellectual disabilities often do so because they believe these individuals can be easily manipulated and will have difficulty testifying later.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The most common psychological disorder that is diagnosed based on symptoms that commonly emerge after a person has been sexually abused or assaulted is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD include:

Hyperarousal:

This means being nervous and jumpy, having a heightened startle response, and reacting more strongly to things that promote anxiety.

Intrusion:

This means frequent, intrusive thoughts about the abuse/assault or reliving aspects of the incident, either while awake or in nightmares. Intrusion also includes experiencing the same fear response that occurred during the incident in response to reminders of the incident. So, for example, if a person felt increased heart rate and rapid breathing due to fear during abuse perpetrated by a person wearing black clothing and then later feels increased heart rate and rapid breathing when they see another person wearing black clothing, this would be an intrusion symptom.

Avoidance:

This means avoiding reminders of the traumatic incident or avoiding thinking about the incident altogether. A person may avoid places, people, and things that remind them of the abuse or assault. Avoidance can start to spread from things closely related to a trauma to more general things. So, a person may start by avoiding the siblings of the male perpetrator and then may begin avoiding men altogether. Avoidance can greatly restrict a person’s activities and people who are developing avoidant behaviors should be provided with helpful psychological treatment.

Understanding Sexual Assault and Abuse – Russian

ПОСТТРАВМАТИЧЕСКОЕ СТРЕССОВОЕ РАССТРОЙСТВО

Самым распространенным психологическим расстройством, которое диагностируется на основании симптомов, чаще всего возникающих в результате сексуального насилия или домогательств, является посттравматическое стрессовое расстройство (ПТСР). Симптомы ПТСР включают:

ПЕРЕВОЗБУЖДЕНИЕ:

человек ведет себя нервно, сильно вздрагивает и бурно реагирует на вещи, которые вызывают тревогу.

НЕПРОИЗВОЛЬНЫЕ ВОСПОМИНАНИЯ:

частые, навязчивые мысли о насилии/домогательстве или повторное переживание тех или иных аспектов этого инцидента во время бодрствования или в кошмарах. Непроизвольные воспоминания также предполагают повторное переживание в ответ на напоминание об инциденте того же страха, который жертва испытывала во время самого инцидента. Так, например, если на жертву напал человек в черной одежду, и во время нападения из-за страха у нее участилось сердцебиение и дыхание, то, если впоследствии при виде кого-нибудь в черной одежде жертва вновь начинает испытывать учащенное сердцебиение и дыхание, это является симптомом непроизвольного рецидивирующего воспоминания.

ИЗБЕГАНИЕ:

человек избегает напоминаний о травмирующем инциденте или вообще старается о нем не думать. Он может избегать мест, людей и вещей, которые напоминают о насилии или домогательствах. Сфера действия избегания может расширяться и с вещей, тесно связанных с травмой, переходить на более общие вещи. Так, человек может сначала избегать братьев злоумышленника, а затем вообще всех мужчин. Избегание способно в значительной мере ограничить жизнедеятельность человека, и люди, демонстрирующие симптомы избегания, нуждаются в эффективном психологическом лечении.

Understanding Sexual Assault and Abuse – Chinese

创伤后应激障碍

以某个人遭受性虐待或侵犯之后经常出现的症状为基础诊断出来的最常 见的心理障碍就是创伤后应激障碍 (PTSD)。PTSD 的症状包括:

过度觉醒:

这指的是保持紧张和神经质,惊吓反应加剧,并对促进焦虑 的事物反应更加强烈

侵扰思绪:

这指的是关于虐待/侵犯或是事件重温的频繁、侵扰的思 绪,无论是在清醒时还是在噩梦中。侵扰思绪还包括在被提醒起事件时 体验到和在事件发生的过程中相同的恐惧反应。因此,比如说,如果一 个人在由一个穿黑色衣服的人所实施的虐待的过程中由于害怕而感觉到 心跳加快和呼吸急促,而之后在看到另一个穿黑色衣服的人的时候再次 感觉到心跳加快和呼吸急促,那么这就属于侵扰症状。

逃避:

这指的是逃避关于创伤事件的提醒,或是完全逃避回想起该事 件。受害者可能会逃避能够让他们回想起虐待或侵犯的地点、人、事和 物。逃避可能会从与创伤密切相关的事物开始延伸至更加一般性的事 物。因此,受害者可能会从逃避男性作案者的兄弟姐妹开始然后到开始 回避所有的男性。逃避可能会极大地限制受害者的活动,正在发展出逃 避行为的受害者应当接受有效的心理治疗。

Understanding Sexual Assault and Abuse – Spanish

Trastorno de Estrés Postraumático

El trastorno psicológico más frecuente que se diagnostica con base en los síntomas que surgen después de que una persona ha sufrido un abuso o una agresión sexual es el trastorno de estrés postraumático. Los síntomas del trastorno de estrés postraumático incluyen:

HIPERAGITACIÓN:
Esto significa estar nervioso y asustadizo, manifestar una respuesta de sobresalto exagerada y reaccionar con mayor fuerza a las cosas que provocan ansiedad.

INTRUSIÓN:
Esto signi fica frecuentes pensamientos intrusivos sobre el abuso o la agresión, o revivir aspectos del incidente, ya sea mientras se está despierto o en las pesadillas. La intrusión también incluye responder a recordatorios del incidente con el mismo miedo que se tu vo durante el incidente. Por ejemplo, si a una persona se le aceleró el corazón y la respiración debido al miedo que sintió mientras era abusada por una persona que vestía ropa negra, y posteriormente siente que se le acelera el corazón y la respiración cu ando ve a otra persona vestida de negro, esto sería un síntoma de intrusión.

EVASIÓN:
Esto significa evitar recordatorios del incidente traumático o evitar completamente pensar en el incidente. Una persona puede evitar lugares, personas y cosas que le re cuerden el abuso o la agresión. La evasión puede crecer desde cosas que están directamente relacionadas con el trauma y extenderse a otras más generales. De esta manera, una persona puede comenzar evitando a los hermanos del agresor y acabar evitando a todos los hombres en general. La evasión puede restringir en gran medida las actividades de una persona y quienes desarrollan conductas de evasión deben recibir un tratamiento psicológico que les sea útil.

Mandated Reporters

What is a Mandated Reporter

Mandated reporters are people required by law to report suspected child abuse. Anyone may make a report, but mandated reporters are held to higher standards and can face consequences for not reporting suspected abuse.

Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) states the following individuals are mandated reporters:

  • A person licensed to practice in any health-related field
  • Medical examiner, coroner or funeral director
  • Employee of a health care facility who is involved in the admission, examination or care of individuals
  • School employees
  • Employee of a child care service who has direct contact with children
  • Spiritual leader or religious healer of any regularly established church or religious organization
  • Individual (paid or unpaid) who on the basis of role, accepts responsibility for a child (e.g., coach, Boy Scout leader)
  • Employee of social services agency who has direct contact with children
  • Peace officer or law enforcement official
  • Emergency medical services provider
  • Employee of a public library who has direct contact with children
  • Individual supervised by anyone listed above who has direct contact with children
  • Independent contractor who has direct contact with children
  • An attorney affiliated with an agency that is responsible for the care or supervision of children
  • A foster parent

If you suspect abuse

If you suspect abuse and are unsure of whether to make a report, consider if:

  • You are a mandated reporter
  • There is an identifiable child and there is suspected abuse
  • There is an identifiable adult with a disability or an elder adult and there is suspected abuse

If any of the above are true, then you must make a report

  • Remember, you should report suspected abuse even if the information is from a third party, as long as there is an identifiable child or adult.
  • You don’t need to find out more information or confirm the abuse before reporting.

If unsure about making a report, contact ChildLine or Adult Protective Services. They will direct the information to the appropriate authorities and decide if further action is needed.

Steps for Reporting Suspected Abuse

  • Gather information regarding the suspected abuse. You do not have to find out additional information about the suspected abuse above and beyond what was told to you, or you observed yourself. It is the county agency’s responsibility to investigate allegations and determine if it is abuse.
  • Make a report online or call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313 for children under the age of 18. To report suspected abuse for an individual with a disability age 18-59, or anyone over the age of 60, contact Adult Protective Services (APS) at 1-800-490-8505
    • If you are a mandated reporter and call ChildLine, you will have to submit Form CY47 to the County Children and Youth Agency within 48 hours. If you make a report to APS as a mandated reporter, you will need to fax a written report to 484-434-1590 or email mandatoryron@libertyhealth.com
  • When making a report, provide any information that is available including the contact information, the name and age of the individual, the suspected abuse, and the information for the perpetrator (if available). It is okay if there is incomplete information.
    • The trained specialist will forward the information from the report to the appropriate authorities.
  • Check with your institution for additional reporting requirements.

Services and Treatment

When to Get Help

When symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic reactions including avoidance, hyper-arousal, or re-experiencing persist without getting better or become worse, psychological treatment can help. Another way to know when treatment is needed is when symptoms interfere with functioning at home, work, school, or in the community. It is best to seek treatment from a mental health professional trained in evidenced-based trauma treatment. Pediatricians, primary care physicians, school counselors, service providers, and other helping professionals in the community can provide referrals to mental health professionals.

Finding the Right Type of Treatment

There is no “one size fits all” treatment for individuals who have experienced abuse or assault. A therapist may use a range of strategies to help the victim and different strategies may be more or less helpful for different people. It is important that the therapist be familiar with the research evidence for treatments that have been shown to best help individuals who have experienced trauma. What is most important to keep in mind is that treatment can help and recovery is possible. With good quality treatment, many fully recover from psychological disorders that emerge following abuse and assault.

Among individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), the benefit of psychological treatment had been previously questioned. However, today it is widely acknowledged that individuals diagnosed with ASD can benefit from psychological treatment adapted to their unique needs, even if they do not communicate verbally. Locating a qualified person to provide treatment for an individual diagnosed with ASD who has experienced trauma requires locating a treatment provider trained in both trauma treatment and ASD/developmental disabilities. It is important to ask questions such as:

  • Do you feel comfortable working with individuals diagnosed with ASD?
  • What is your training in ASD?
  • Do you feel comfortable treating people who have experienced sexual abuse and assault?
  • What evidence-based treatment options do you provide for persons who have experienced sexual abuse/assault?

A good therapist will feel comfortable answering these questions honestly.

Helping Centers

Many communities have Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) that offer coordinated support and services for victims of child abuse. For a state-by-state listing of accredited CACs, visit the National Children’s Alliance website, http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/ or call 202-548-0090.

You can contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656-HOPE or www.rainn.org for help finding support in your area. RAINN operates in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Local Resources

For Adults:

Pennsylvania Adult Protective Services: 1-800-490-8505 to report suspected abuse

For additional resources from PA Department of Human Services: https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx

For Children:

Pennsylvania Childline: 1-800-932-0313 to report suspected abuse

For a Directory of Services for the Office of Children, Youth and Families: https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Services/Children/Pages/Child-Welfare-Services.aspx

For Everyone:

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape: https://pcar.org/help-pa/locations

Evidence-Based Treatments

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) involves working to change both unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. CBT may involve both elements of exposure therapy and of cognitive processing therapy. CBT usually involves weekly sessions, lasting 60-90 minutes each. The length of treatment will vary depending on the patient’s needs and abilities.

Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT)

TF-CBT is a specific subset of CBT that focuses on trauma and treats a range of psychological difficulties commonly experienced after sexual assault or abuse. The structure of sessions are similar to CBT.

Prolonged Exposure (PE)

Prolonged exposure (PE) helps people cope with PTSD symptoms by teaching them ways to gradually approach memories, feelings, and situations that are related to the sexual assault. People who experience assault and then develop PTSD often try to avoid anything that reminds them of the assault. This usually feels good in the short term, but does not work in the long term and prevents the person from overcoming PTSD. PE helps people end patterns of avoidance. By talking about the details of the assault and by confronting safe situations that have been avoided, people diagnosed with PTSD start to feel better and stop avoiding important areas of their lives.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) helps people to evaluate and change upsetting thoughts that they have had since experiencing a trauma such as sexual assault. When people are able to change their thoughts about the assault, they can change the way they feel. Experiencing assault can change the way you think about yourself, about others, and about the world. For example, many people think that they are to blame for the assault they experienced. In CPT, people learn to revaluate the thoughts they have about assault and decide when it makes sense to change their thinking.

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

The goal of EMDR is to help people process the traumatic event they experienced in a helpful way. For a person who has experienced assault, EMDR involves thinking about the assault while paying attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound (e.g., a finger waving side to side, a light, or a tone).

Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)

Narrative exposure therapy is designed for individuals who have experienced an ongoing traumatic event. For instance, some people are involved in abusive relationships that last for many years and are assaulted many times during the relationship. Narrative exposure therapy helps people talk though memories of exposure to trauma and put these memories together into a story.

Services and Treatment – Russian

Когда нужна помощь

Когда симптомы, такие как депрессия, тревога или посттравматические реакции, в том числе избегание, перевозбуждение или повторное переживание, сохраняются без улучшения или ухудшения ситуации, помочь человеку может психологическое лечение. Если симптомы мешают человеку выполнять домашние обязанности, работать, ходить в школу или взаимодействовать с социумом, это также свидетельствует о необходимости лечения. Лучше всего обратиться за помощью к специалисту в области психического здоровья, владеющему научно-обоснованными методами лечения посттравматических расстройств. Педиатры, терапевты, школьные психологи, специализированные организации и прочие профессионалы, которым поручено оказание помощи, могут направить вас к специалисту в области психического здоровья.

Как определить наиболее подходящий метод лечения

Единого метода лечения лиц, подвергшихся домогательствам или насилию, не существует. Для помощи жертвам насилия у терапевтов имеется целый арсенал различных методов; некоторым пациентам могут больше подходить одни методы, другим — другие. Важно, чтобы терапевт был знаком с результатами исследований по тем методам лечения, которые лучше всего помогают избавиться от последствий травмы. Самое главное — помнить о том, что лечение может оказать реальную помощь человеку, и что выздоровление возможно. Качественное лечение позволяет многим жертвам полностью избавиться от психологических расстройств, возникших в результате насилия или домогательств.

В прошлом специалисты ставили под сомнение пользу, которую психологическое лечение может принести пациентам с диагнозом «Расстройство аутистического спектра (РАС)». Однако сегодня общепризнанной является позиция, согласно которой люди с РАС положительно реагируют на психологическое лечение, адаптированное к их особым потребностям, даже если они не поддерживают вербальное общение. Эффективным психологическим лечением человека с РАС, пережившего травму, может заниматься такой квалифицированный специалист, который прошел подготовку как в области посттравматических расстройств, так и в области РАС/нарушений развития. Важно задать следующие вопросы:

  • Вы не испытываете затруднений при работе с пациентами, страдающими РАС?
  • Какую профессиональную подготовку в области РАС Вы прошли?
  • Вы не испытываете затруднений при работе с жертвами сексуального насилия и домогательств?
  • Какие научно обоснованные методы лечения Вы предлагаете лицам, испытавшим сексуальное насилие/домогательства?

Хороший терапевт спокойно и честно ответит на подобные вопросы.

Центры помощи

Во многих городах имеются Центры защиты прав детей (Children’s Advocacy Center, CAC), которые оказывают официальную помощь и услуги жертвам жестокого обращения с детьми. На веб-сайте Национального детского альянса National Children’s Alliance указан список аккредитованных Центров защиты прав детей каждого штата http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/, ; вы также можете узнать интересующую вас информацию, позвонив по номеру 202-548-0090.

Вы можете связаться с Национальной сетью по вопросам изнасилований, домогательства и инцеста (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, RAINN) по телефону 1-800-656-HOPE, или зайти на их веб-сайт www.rainn.org для получения помощи по месту жительства. Организация RAINN сотрудничает по всей стране с более чем 1000 местных агентств, занимающихся помощью жертвам сексуального насилия, и реализует программы, направленные на предотвращение сексуального насилия, оказание помощи жертвам насилия и привлечение к ответственности виновных в актах насилия и домогательства.

Местные ресурсы

ДЛЯ ВЗРОСЛЫХ:

Пенсильванская Служба защиты и опеки взрослых 1-800-490-8505 для сообщений о предполагаемом насилии

http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/reportabuse/dhsadultprotectiveservices/

ДЛЯ ДЕТЕЙ:

Пенсильванская линия защиты прав ребенка 1-800-932-0313 для сообщений о предполагаемом насилии

Справочная книга соответствующих служб для Управления по делам детей, молодежи и семей:

http://www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_260653.pdf

ДЛЯ ВСЕХ:

Пенсильванская Коалиция по борьбе с сексуальным насилием:

http://www.pcar.org/helppa/locations

Services and Treatment – Chinese

何时获取帮助

当诸如抑郁、焦虑等症状,或是包括逃避、过度觉醒或再体验等创伤后反应持续存在,没有好转或恶 化,那么心理治疗可能会有所帮助。了解何时需要治疗的另一种方式是当症状妨碍到在家中、工作中、 学校里或社区里的机能的时候。最好的做法是向接受过循证创伤治疗培训的心理健康专业人员寻求治 疗。儿科医生、初级保健医生、学校顾问、服务提供者以及社区里其他提供帮助的专业人员能够为您提 供心理健康专业人员的转介。

找到正确的治疗类型

对于经历过虐待或侵犯的人,并没有任何“万能”的治疗。治疗师可能会使用各种各样的策略来帮助受害者,而不 同的策略对于不同的人的帮助程度可能更大或更小。重要的是,治疗师应当熟悉经验证能够最好地帮助经历过创伤 的人的治疗的研究证据。需要记住的最重要的一点是,治疗能够起到帮助,恢复是可能实现的。通过优质的治疗, 许多人完全地从虐待和侵犯之后出现的心理障碍中恢复过来。

在被诊断患有自闭症谱系障碍 (Autism Spectrum Disorders, ASD) 的人群中,心理治疗的益处先前曾受到质疑。但如 今,人们普遍认为,被诊断患有 ASD 的人士能够受益于根据其独特需求进行适应的心理治疗,即便他们不进行口头 交流。如需找到一位符合资格的人士来为经历过创伤并被诊断患有 ASD 的人士提供治疗,则应找到一位接受过创伤 治疗和 ASD/发展障碍方面的培训的治疗提供者。务必提出诸如以下这些问题:

  • 您对于与被诊断患有 ASD 的人士合作一事是否会感到不便?
  • 您在 ASD 方面接受过哪些培训?
  • 您对于治疗经历过性虐待和侵犯的人士一事是否会感到不便?
  • 您会为遭受过性虐待/侵犯的人士提供哪些循证治疗选择?

一位好的治疗师不会对诚实回答这些问题感到不便。

帮助中心

许多社区拥有能够为儿童虐待的受害者提供协调式支持和服务的儿童倡导中心 (Children’s Advocacy Centers, CAC)。如需获取按州分类的经认证 CAC 名录,请访问全国儿童联盟的网 站:http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/, 或拨打 202-548-0090

您可以联系强奸、虐待与乱伦全国网络 (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, RAINN),电话:1-800-656-HOPE,网站:www.rainn.org,以获取 帮助查找您所在区域的支持。RAINN 与全国各地超过 1,000 个当地性侵犯服 务提供者合作开展运营,并开展项目以预防性暴力,帮助幸存者,并确保作案 者被绳之以法。

当地资源

面向成年人:

宾夕法尼亚州成人保护服务

电话 1-800-490-8505,以报告疑似的虐待

如需向宾夕法尼亚州公众服务部获取额外资源: http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/reportabuse/dhsadultprotectiveservices/

面向儿童:

宾夕法尼亚州儿童专线

电话 1-800-932-0313,以报告疑似的虐待

如需获取儿童、青少年与家庭办公室的服务名录: http://www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_260653.pdf

面向所有人:

宾夕法尼亚州反强奸联盟

http://www.pcar.org/help-pa/locations

Services and Treatment – Spanish

Cuándo buscar ayuda

Cuando síntomas como la depresión y la ansiedad, o reacciones postraumáticas, como evadir cosas que le recuerden el trauma que sufrió, agitarse excesivamente y revivir el evento traumático, persisten sin mejorar o empeoran, el tratamiento psicológico puede ser de ayuda. Otra manera de saber si se necesita tratamiento es cuando los síntomas interfieren en el funcionamiento en el hogar, el trabajo, la escuela o la comunidad. Lo mejor es buscar para el tratamiento a un profesional de salud mental entrenado en el tratamiento de traumas basado en la evidencia. Los pediatras, médicos de atención primaria, consejeros escolares, proveedores de ser vicios y otros profesionales que ayudan en la comunidad pueden referirlo a profesionales de salud mental.

Cómo buscar el tipo de tratamiento adecuado

No existe un tratamiento único que sirva por igual para todas las personas que han sufrido un abuso o una agresión. Un terapeuta puede usar una serie de estrategias para ayudar a la víctima, y distintas estrategias pueden ser más o menos útiles para las distintas personas. Es importante que el terapeuta conozca las evidencias de las investigaciones de los tratamientos que, según ha quedado demostrado, ayudan mejor a las personas que han sufrido un trauma. Lo más importante que hay que tener en mente es que el tratamiento puede ayudar y que la recuperación es posible. Con un tratamiento de buena calidad, muchos se recuperan completamente de los trastornos psicológicos que surgen después de un abuso o una agresión.

En el pasado se cuestionó el beneficio del tratamiento psicológico en personas diagnosticadas con trastornos del espectro autista (ASD, por sus siglas en inglés). Sin embargo, actualmente tiene amplio reconocimiento que las personas con trastornos del espectro autista pueden beneficiarse de un tratamiento psicológico adaptado a sus necesidades particulares, aun cuando no se comuniquen verbalmente. Para localizar a una persona preparada para brindar tratamiento a un paciente con autismo que ha sufrido un trauma hay que buscar a un proveedor de tratamiento que haya recibido capacitación tanto en el tratamiento de traumas como en el área de los trastorn os del espectro autista y las discapacidades de desarrollo. Es importante que se planteen preguntas como:

  • ¿Se siente cómodo trabajando con personas a las que se les ha diagnosticado un trastorno del espectro autista?
  • ¿Qué entrenamiento tiene en el área d e los trastornos del espectro autista?
  • ¿Se siente cómodo tratando a personas que han sufrido abuso y agresión sexual?
  • ¿Qué opciones de tratamientos basados en evidencia ofrece a personas que han sufrido un abuso o una agresión sexual?

Un buen terapeuta no tendrá problemas en responder sinceramente estas preguntas.

Centros de ayuda

Muchas comunidades tienen Centros de Defensa del Niño (CAC, por sus siglas en inglés) que ofrecen apoyo y servicios coordinados para víctimas de abuso infantil. Para ver una lista de los Centros acreditados de Defensa del Niño, estado por estado, visite el sitio web de la Alianza Nacional de Niños, http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/
o llame al 202-548-0090.

Puede contactar a la Red Nacional contra la Violación, el Abuso y el Incesto (RAINN)
llamando al 1-800-656-HOPE y www.rainn.org pedir ayuda para encontrar apoyo en su área. RAINN trabaja en colaboración con más de 1.000 proveedores locales de servicios para víctimas de agresiones sexuales en todo el país y desarrolla programas para prevenir la violencia sexual, ayudar a los superv ivientes y asegurarse de que los agresores sean juzgados.

Recursos locales

PARA ADULTOS:
Servicios de Protección de Adultos de Pensilvania
1-800-490-8505 para reportar sospechas de abuso

Otros recursos del Departamento de Servicios Humanos de Pensilvania:
http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/reportabuse/dhsadultprotectiveservices/

PARA NIÑOS:
Pennsylvania Childline
1-800-932-0313 para reportar sospechas de abuso

Directorio de Servicios de la Oficina de Niños, Jóvenes y Familias:
http://www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_260653.pdf

PARA TODOS:
Coalición de Pensilvania contra la Violación:
http://www.pcar.org/helppa/locations

Supporting Individuals Who Have Experienced Assault or Abuse

Understanding the Victim’s Feelings

After sexual abuse, individuals may feel sad, scared, lonely, mad, embarrassed or fearful. They may also feel love and anger at the person who hurt them at the same time. Some individuals experience mild symptoms, followed by a return to their typical feelings and behaviors. Others experience intense and long-lasting symptoms, which may meet criteria for a psychological disorder such as Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some common feelings people experience following sexual assault include:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Wanting normalcy
  • Avoiding closeness/intimacy

Individuals with autism may demonstrate a wide range of behaviors after experiencing sexual abuse or assault. These behaviors may include:

  • More self-stimulating behaviors than usual
  • Increase in self-injurious behavior
  • Decrease in communication or adaptive skills
  • Wanting to stay in the place where abuse happened
  • Acting as if in a favorite cartoon, movie or story
  • Acting out because of frustration, sadness and anger

Supporting the Victim

When victims of sexual assault or abuse seek treatment, the availability of a loved-one who supports their efforts can go a long way in making treatment helpful. Some things that caregivers can do to support victims include:

Consistently affirm that you believe the victim

Victims should know that you believe what they share about the assault and that you believe that the assault was not their fault.

Validate the victim’s behavior

Know that there is no right or wrong way to handle being assaulted or abused. Let them know they did the best thing they could under the stress of experiencing assault or abuse. Assure the victim that none of their behavior made them a willing participant.

Allow the victim to share with you at his or her own pace

Allow the victim to share as much or as little about the assault with you as is helpful for them.

If the victim agrees, participate in treatment

Depending on the needs of the individual, caregivers may participate in treatment to help them with communication and other needs, learn ways to support the victim, and become prepared to discuss the abuse with the victim.

Managing Emotions

Understanding and expressing emotions can be particularly difficult for individuals who have experienced abuse or assault. Change in behavior that sometimes occur (e.g., increase in self-stimulatory behavior) may be a way of coping with intense and confusing emotions. If you notice that individuals are experiencing distressing emotions, you can help them by suggesting age- and developmentally-appropriate coping strategies. Some common ways to cope with feelings include:

  • Watching TV or a movie
  • Listening to music
  • Taking time to be alone
  • Coloring or drawing
  • Writing in a diary
  • Playing with pets
  • Exercise or outdoor play
  • Talking or being with a friend or family member
  • Expressing emotions by crying, laughing, talking, etc.

Helping to prevent re-victimization

Reduce re-victimization risk and promote sexual safety:

  • Improve knowledge about sex and sexuality. Individuals are curious by nature, and those who have experienced abuse or assault may be more curious.
  • Learn to identify sexually inappropriate behavior. Teach individuals that they decide who touches them or does anything to their body. Focus on safety, personal boundaries, touching and saying ‘no’.
  • Improve social skills and teach individuals how to develop healthy social relationships and identify people who can help protect them from further harm. Individuals who are socially isolated are at greater risk for sexual abuse or assault.
  • Teach how to identify when they feel uncomfortable with inappropriate behavior from others and how to end social interactions or relationships when they occur.
  • Create a safety plan with the individual and teach them what to do if they feel unsafe. Make sure that people who provide services and supports to the individual are aware of the safety plan, rules for safety, personal boundaries, touching and saying ‘no’.
  • Social stories and role-play activities can help show what to do when someone touches or does something to their body without their permission.
  • Know the early signs and symptoms of abuse.

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Other downloads

Name Description Type File
Be Safe: General Intervention Linking to Services pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Linking to Services – Russian pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Linking to Services – Chinese pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Linking to Services – Spanish pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Mandated Reporters and How to File a Report pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Russian pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Chinese pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Spanish pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Supporting Individuals Who Have Experienced Assault or Abuse pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Understanding Sexual Assault or Abuse – How, Who and Why it Happens pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Evidence-Based Treatments pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Helping to Prevent Re-Victimization pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention
Be Safe: General Intervention Understanding Sexual Assault or Abuse – Definitions and Perpetrators pdf Download file: Be Safe: General Intervention

This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.