Practice Issues in Sexuality and Learning Disabilities

By Ann Craft | Go to book overview

7

Between ourselves

Experiences of a women's group on sexuality and sexual abuse

Lorraine Millard


INTRODUCTION

I was asked to contribute a chapter to this book following the release of the video Between Ourselves (Twentieth Century Vixen 1988). The video is about a women's group I co-ran for women with moderate learning disabilities. It shows some of the women and myself talking about a number of the issues that arise in the group and demonstrates some of the methods we used to explore them.

In common with many women's groups it allowed safe and confidential space to look at: feelings, life experience and sexuality. The group was not set up as a survivors' group and I certainly did not enter it as a group leader with any expertise in the area of sexual abuse and learning disability. However, what emerged very soon was that several of the women had been and were being sexually assaulted. My co-worker and I were very clear that we were not going to deny or silence the issue further, so, together with the group, we found ways to work with it.

After eighteen months of working together we all felt we wanted to document our experience and put it to positive use. We wanted to campaign for the rights of all women with learning disabilities to have access to a women's group. With this same motivation we agreed to contribute to this chapter.

We had chosen to make a video for two reasons: because we felt it was the best way to communicate with other women in a similar position and because it was the only medium which would represent the women talking for themselves. As one of the women put it:

It's important to say something you can see. To see things that you have made to show that you have tried…. It's good to have something that comes from our own mouths without anybody telling us what to say.

-135-

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