This post is written specifically to those on Candlelight Vigil in Honor of Jennifer Daugherty, and anyone else who wants to make a substantial difference!
"The press and media continue to largely ignore this issue. I know of only three significant stories on this issue over the last ten years. Most reports describe isolated crimes with no hint that there is a large, serious, and persistent pattern of violence directed against people with disabilities." Said Dan Sorensen who also stated "Crime and violence against people with disabilities is most likely the largest."
Jennifer Daugherty has captured our hearts and rage against those who tortured and killed her, and I propose that in Jennifer's honor and to prevent these things from continuing to happen to others, everyone speaking out for Jennifer can make a difference in other ways as well.
People with intellectual disabilities are 4-10times likely to be victims of crime compared to the non-disabled population and up 90% of people with intellectual disabilities are sexually abused, 49% of them experiencing 10 or more separate instances...society is largely unaware of these statistics because people with disabilities are devalued in our society.
People with disabilities in addition to being abused more than any other population are also extremely lonely which could result in dangerous friendships being made if at all...We could each channel the energy we have now into making a substantial difference in Jennifer's honor!
I propose that each of us befriend a person with a disability, lets start a volunteer organization that matches people with disabilities in the community with "mentors' or friends based on common interests. The benefits would be two-fold. First each of us would enjoy a quality reciprocal relationship with a person with a disability while breaking down the stigma attached to disability. Secondly, we could end the loneliness that so many people with disabilities experience, and provide a positive, meaningful relationship, possibly helping to protect someone from forging relationships with those who would abuse and humiliate.
Jennifer doesn't have to be forgotten, her story can become a catalyst for change in our community and others...I beg you all, let's not just talk about it, Let's do something!