People with disability have a higher risk of experiencing violence than people without a disability. Women with a disability are at the greatest risk, and may also experience significant barriers to accessing support services. They are also less likely to report experiences of violence.
Our community does not always recognise the experiences of women with disabilities, especially when they involve experiences of abuse. This can mean that women with disabilities have reduced opportunities to seek help, especially if there is limited access to information about support.
Understanding violence against women with a disability
Women with disability are affected by similar types of violence as women without disability, but often experience different forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence. This violence may be perpetrated by a partner, a relative, a paid or unpaid support worker, or a stranger.
They may also experience violence from people within a residential or institutional setting, which can include other residents, staff members, medical practitioners or service providers. Women who rely on personal care assistance may also experience abuse, which ranges from neglect or poor care to economic, verbal and sexual abuse.
Practical considerations for working with a client with disability
- The accessibility of the service e.g. physical access, communication tools
- Whether they have a service or companion animal and what support or provisions are required
- Discerning what tactics of abuse are being used, such as withholding medication or preventing access to support
- Whether the perpetrator has a carer role in their life
- Whether they need daily living support if they are moved to emergency accommodation
- Whether they have an advocate they would like their worker to engage with
- Their access to support and their economic resources
- If their disability is the result of their abuse (e.g. acquired brain injury, PTSD)
- Whether they have access to any medication/aids they need
- Whether they are engaged with support services