Within recent research, a connection has been drawn between victims of domestic violence and people with disabilities. These disabilities have been characterized as physical or emotional. According to this research, people with disabilities generally experience a significant amount of domestic trauma of varying degrees, for a multitude of reasons. In order to protect the safety of these individuals, it is incredibly important to understand the nuances surrounding this topic, in order to prevent this violence from continuing further in the future.
Understanding the Violence
Disabled individuals are twice as likely to experience “violent crimes” than their non-disabled counterparts. The abuse experienced by these individuals also tends to be more intense and occurs in a more frequent manner than it would for a person without a disability. However, despite the severity of this situation for this group of people, the police response is weak. People have been reported to be less likely to show up to violence against a person with a disability, showing up only 77% of the time. This can be compared to a rate of 90% for people without disabilities.
The abuse and violence that is performed against people with disabilities often tends to be a bit different from the violence against people without disabilities. This violence can look like harm to service animals, which is vital to disabled bodies. Violence can also be perpetrated to objects like one’s wheelchairs or walkers. The abuser is also likely to humiliate the victim because of their disability. There have been cases where finances have been stolen, such as disability checks that are provided to aid the individual in their daily life. Over-medicating, or doing the opposite and refusing medication, has also been utilized as a type of violence, as well as refusing medical appointments regarding the disability.
Why Does This Violence Occur?
The reason why violence occurs to disabled people is foundational to why all violence is perpetrated by abusers — the desire for power and control. That vulnerability of disabled groups can be preyed upon, and then taken advantage of, by abusers to use as a form of manipulation over the individual. Many times, the violence experienced by people with disabilities is coming from the hands of an intimate partner or a trusted individual within their life, including family members or caretakers.
Unfortunately, a lot of these cases go unreported. Further limitations can contribute to the lack of reporting, too. If a person is BIPOC or a part of the LGBTQ+, they will feel even more marginalized. Police brutality could impact the decision to report domestic violence within people who are BIPOC and have a disability. Similarly, if an LGBTQ+ individual feels outcast in both the disabled and LGBTQ+ community, they are less likely to report it if they feel neither community will have the proper resources to help them.
It is crucial that these people are protected as much as possible by society, as they are already at greater risk of violence than their non-disabled counterparts. In order to do this, there are a few different steps that can be taken to help in every way possible.
Disability awareness training is a useful tool that can be utilized in various different social settings to help this group. This allows employees of various organizations and businesses to be prepared to help these people whenever it may be needed. This is especially important in shelters or other locations where people with disabilities may be reaching out to. It is also important to have plenty of information and resources available for them when they are in shelters, hospitals, the workplace, and other public locations where this information could be easily accessed. This could include hotlines for victims to call in case they need to reach out for help.
Moving forward, protecting these individuals should be a priority that everyone strives to reach. We must do everything in our power to protect the disabled community from acts of violence that are detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being.