Disabled women 2 to 5 times are more likely to experience sexual violence than non-disabled women

  • 50% of disabled women have experienced violence in their lives, 33% of non- disabled women
  • Disabled children are 3 times as likely to be sexually abused than non-disabled children (most likely for disabled girls)
  • Worldwide, 70% of women with learning difficulties report being victims of sexual assault (20% of women without earning difficulties) (UN). Sanction detection rates are very low.
  • Disabled men are more likely than non-disabled men to be victims of domestic violence
  • Hate crime and harassment, and institutional abuse are a common life

There are many barriers

  • Disbelief – “how can anyone to that to her? she is so vulnerable, Her family want what’s best for her”
  •  A ‘vulnerable adults’/adults at risk framework that does not protect disabled victims
  • Inaccessible information and communication
  • Limited access to support services e.g. short term IDVA or counselling support, no 24 hour support in refuges, wheelchair access, BSL access, ‘don’t meet the criteria’
  • Housing, social care, access to mental health support etc
  • Discrimination in the criminal justice system

To support disabled women survivors of domestic violence

  • Be prepared and willing to support disabled and Deaf women
  • Provide disability equality training to staff and volunteers
  • Provide accessible support
  • Include disabled and deaf women amongst paid staff and volunteers
  • Ensure peer support is provided by disabled women to disabled women
  • Ensure accessible information is provided
  • Actively raise public awareness about violence against disabled women
  • Train other professionals about issues around violence against disabled women
  • Collaborate with disabled people’s organisations, including disabled women’s networks

Most importantly use the social model of disability approach, that is to say -not to focus primarily on impairments but the role of the environment and society in disability. Prioritise inclusive practice  so as to develop the peer support needed..

Extracts from a longer presentation at a recent networking event organised by Safer London – see http://www.sisofrida.org/category/violence-against-women/

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