Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

Sexuality and Consent in Disability

Sexual education for disabled people, by disabled people


Who is behind this?

Sara Rocha

Associação Portuguesa Voz do Autista



Idea pitch

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects our communication, and sensory perception. Our research showed that 81% of autistic women were or are in abusive relationships and that 72% suffered sexual abuse. Autistic people have different teaching needs, as well as other disabilities, who have a different vulnerability. We intend to develop free webinars to take to schools directed to disabled/autistic people about Sexuality and Consent.

Where will your project idea take place?

Aveiro, Portugal

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Disabled women have a 2.5 times more probability of entering an abusive relationship.
In Portugal, we did a small questionnaire that showed the same trends, with 72% of autistic women experiencing sexual abuse and 81% have had (or is in) an abusive relationship.
We intend to improve relationships for disabled people and decrease abusive situations and vulnerability, by educating teenagers and adults with disabilities. It would not stop abuse every time, but it can decrease vulnerability if they are aware of how to recognize abuse or a healthy relationship and how to handle it.
Aveiro is a small city and although there is no data on disability, from our questionnaire we know how these experiences are replicated here too. It is just not talked about.

Who are you doing it for?

Our project will be directed to disabled people. 18% of people in Portugal are disabled, but there is not a lot of education directed to them, even if they have specific difficulties and needs in that area. This will also help destigmatize sexuality within disability and fight for inclusion. We intend to address and create a safe space for disabled children and adolescents, and to employ disabled adults.

How do you plan to get there?

We already developed the questionnaire and we have the points we intend to grasp.
We now need a group of disabled people, psychologists, and teachers to gather and mold the information into a series that can be adapted according to disabilities and needs (for example, braille, sign language, etc).
We will also use comic strips to illustrate specific situations, which we need to pay for a designer since the visual impact is easier to process in autistic people (we will have a description for the visual impaired).
We need to start by developing the webinar and then approach schools in Aveiro for a pilot. We will also have to recruit disabled people to give the lectures, as well as train them and ensure they have the accessibility needed for it.

What are the expected results?

This will be an ongoing project that can be adapted and implemented in schools that have disabled children and teenagers. We expect to be able to empower people with disabilities and help them to achieve healthy relationships and positive sexual experiences. By organizing disabled children, teenagers and adults, we intend to create a community of support, which at the moment is desperately separated, which hurts our social and political engagement.
After initial setup, it should be easily maintained. It will also employ disabled people, who are chronically unemployed in our area.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The experience I have as a disabled woman, is that seeing disabled mentors who are strong and unafraid of sharing their experiences and information, leads to youth empowerment also. Representation in disability is low in our area, and seeing a successful disabled adult talking about consent, might lead children and teenagers who are disabled to feel less alone and understood. We will organize a safe space for disabled people to discuss sexuality, and their experiences. We also intend to provide counselling and support if we find situations of trauma and abuse. By recruiting disabled people we will also increase the participation and social engagement of adults. We hope to incentivize self-acceptance and the will to join social causes on disabled teenagers and children.

Why is this idea important to you?

My name is Sara Rocha, I'm an autistic advocate and co-founder, and President of the non-profit. Personally, it is important to me because I was a teenager once, who did not knew a lot of the information myself. I feel like if I had the proper adapted information about sexuality and consent, I would've felt more empowered to have healthy positive experiences, recognize abusive/violent situations, as well as how to report them.
Raquel Marques is another autistic advocate and Vice-President of the non-profit.

€ 26000,-

Total budget

€ 26000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

travel and accommodation costs to schools 7000 EUR
consultation with psychologists and teachers cost 2000 EUR
consultation with people with disabilities cost 2000 EUR
development of the webinars 3000 EUR
setting up pilot and outreach 1000 EUR
recruitment of disabled trainers 7000 EUR
back office 4000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We want to be the most inclusive as we can. If you have any ideas on Sexuality and consent on disability, feel free to share with us. Thank you



Idea created on April 8, 2021
Last edit on April 24, 2021

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