A review of current research by Public Health England in 2015 confirmed that people with disabilities are more vulnerable to domestic violence and will often face additional difficulties in attempting to access support.
Someone who is disabled and experiencing domestic abuse may find it harder to protect themselves, access sources of help, or remove themselves from the abusive situation; the disabled person may be reliant on the abuser for personal care or mobility. They can be subject to physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse in any or all of the ways that non-disabled people are abused, but in addition they may experience the following forms of abusive behaviour:
- An abuser may withhold care from them or undertake it neglectfully or abusively.
- An abuser may remove mobility or sensory devices that they need for independence.
- An abuser may be claiming state benefits in order to care for them — enabling them to control your finances more effectively.
- An abuser may use their disability to taunt or degrade them.
Difficulties with disclosure
Disabled victims may already be socially isolated because of their disability but also find it harder to disclose abuse because they have no opportunity to see health or social care professionals without their abuser being present. They may have particular concerns about moving out of their home as it may have been specially adapted for them, or perhaps a care package has been organised and they are worried that they will lose their current level of independence if you are forced to move elsewhere. They may be reluctant to report domestic abuse from a partner whose care they depend on, and which they believe enables them to stay out of institutional care.
As a disabled person, they may be regarded as a “vulnerable adult” or "adult at risk", and in this case there are multi-agency policies and procedures for the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable adults.
Torbay Council have a thought provoking video:
Buckinghamshire County Council has released a poster and leaflet highlighting the issues around abuse of adults with disabilities; the vast majority of information and resources they contain are relevant wherever you are in the UK.
We've also been playing two audio adverts to raise awareness — if you're in the Thames Valley area you may have caught them on the radio.
Services and agencies for disabled people (Links are in purple)
Provides support, information and advice to more than a quarter of a million disabled people and their families every year.
Tel: 0808 800 3333 (weekdays 09.00-17.00)
There has not been a lot of research on domestic violence against women with learning disabilities, but we are gradually learning more about their experiences. Choice Support will advise on local support services through online contact.
Disability Rights UK
The leading authority on social security benefits for disabled people; the website contains regularly updated information about benefits, tax credits and community care.
A registered charity providing advice and support to disabled people with learning difficulties who have been abused. Respond works with children and adults with learning disabilities who have experienced abuse or trauma, as well as those who have abused others, through psychotherapy, advocacy, campaigning and other support. Respond also aims to prevent abuse by providing training, consultancy and research.
Disability and domestic abuse Risk, impacts and response, Public Health England, 2015
Books Beyond Words is a charity that provides books and training to support people who find pictures easier to understand than words. Whether supporting somebody with a learning disability or communication difficulty, our resources empower people through pictures.
This Healthy Relationships Workbook from US is developed by Arc of Spokane. The purpose of this workbook is to assist a person with an intellectual or developmental disability to learn about healthy relationships, to identify and recognize abuse and to know who to contact for help.
For practitioners- then Anne Craft Trust website is a useful source. They are a leading UK authority on safeguarding disabled children and adults at risk and support organisations to safeguard disabled children and adults at risk and minimise the risk of harm.