Topic: Violence and abuse

Sexual assaults in individuals with visual impairment: A cross-sectional study of a Norwegian sample

Brunes, A., & Heir, T. (2018). Sexual assaults in individuals with visual impairment: A cross-sectional study of a Norwegian sample. BMJ Open, 8(6). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-021602

The obctive of this article is to examine the prevalence of sexual assaults among individuals with visual impairment (VI) compared with the general population and to investigate the association between sexual assault and outcomes of self-efficacy and life satisfaction.


Design Cross-sectional interview-based study conducted between February and May 2017.

Participants A probability sample of adults with VI (≥18 years) who were members of the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted. A total of 736 (61%) members participated, of whom 55% were of female gender. We obtained norm data for sexual assaults from a representative survey of the general Norwegian population.

Outcome measures Sexual assaults (Life Event Checklist for DSM-5), self-efficacy (General Self-Efficacy Scale) and life satisfaction (Cantril’s Ladder of Life Satisfaction).

Results The prevalence of sexual assaults (rape, attempted rape and forced into sexual acts) in the VI population was 17.4% (95% CI 14.0 to 21.4) among women and 2.4% (95% CI 1.2 to 4.7) among men. For women, the VI population had higher rates of sexual assaults across age strata than the general population. For men, no significant differences were found. In the population of people with VI, the risk of sexual assault was greater for those having other impairments in addition to the vision loss. Individuals with VI who experienced sexual assaults had lower levels of self-efficacy (adjusted relative risk (ARR): 0.18, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.61) and life satisfaction (ARR: 0.31, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.50) than others.

Conclusions The risk of experiencing sexual assault appears to be higher in individuals with VI than in the general population. Preventive measures as well as psychosocial care for those who have been exposed are needed.