Connecting Disability + Domestic and Sexual Violence

Imagine living in a world where the very things that make you unique your mobility, your communication, your thought process, your sensory experiences place you at a heightened risk of violence. For people with disabilities, this stark reality is not a hypothetical; it's a daily concern they navigate.

March is Development Disabilities Awareness Month so we wanted to share these statistics that paint a sobering picture:

•    People with disabilities are twice as likely to experience violent crime compared to their non-disabled peers.
•    80% of women with disabilities have been sexually assaulted, and they experience intimate partner violence at a rate 40% higher than non-disabled women. 
•    Men with disabilities are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than men without disabilities.
•    Children with disabilities are almost twice as likely to be sexually abused.

The connection between disability and domestic and sexual violence is complex and multi-faceted, fueled by several factors:
•    Power Imbalances: Disabilities can create power imbalances within relationships, making individuals more vulnerable to manipulation and control. Perpetrators may exploit physical dependence, reliance on communication support, or financial dependence to exert dominance.
•    Attitudes and Stereotypes: Negative attitudes and stereotypes about disability portraying individuals as weak, dependent, or childlike can normalize abuse and make it harder for victims to seek help. This societal bias often results in victim blaming and inadequate support systems.
•    Limited Support Networks: Social isolation, often experienced by individuals with disabilities, can limit access to safe spaces and trusted confidantes, leaving victims trapped in abusive situations.

At Safe Alliance, we create an accessible and welcoming environment that allows people with disabilities to gain the support they need. "As soon as clients come in the door, we are assessing how we can best assist them, including any supports they may need to accommodate disabilities or other areas of need," says Family Advocate Leanne Thurman who works in Safe Alliance's Victim Assistance Court Program.

Leanne continues explaining, "We approach with patience and compassion while supporting clients to advocate for themselves and have autonomy over their decisions. For clients who cannot advocate for themselves, such as children and individuals who require a caregiver, guardian ad litem, or power of attorney, we strive for client involvement as much as possible while providing information and support to the individual acting on the client's behalf."

It is unfortunate that individuals with disabilities are often taken advantage of and face additional hurdles in navigating an already complicated system, but at Safe Alliance, we strive for everyone to leave our office feeling heard and supported.

If you or someone you know needs support for domestic violence, sexual assault, or parenting, call the 24/7 Greater Charlotte Hope Line at 980.771.4673.

Tagged as Education, Victim Assistance Court Program.

In an emergency please dial 911

Call the Greater Charlotte Hope Line 24/7 for info on parenting, domestic violence and sexual assault 980.771.4673.

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