Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence and Specific Populations: People with Disabilities

The nature of abuse does not change much for an abused woman with a disability. What is different is that the abuser may use the disability as a way to control her. Also, some women with disabilities who are abused may depend upon the abuser or others to help meet their basic needs. Help may be needed with food preparation, medication, finances, personal care, or with adaptive equipment.

An abuser may use his partner's disability as a way to cause physical harm, such as:

The abuser may also use the disability to mislead police and others. Examples include:

When women with disabilities try to escape abuse, there are a number of risks. Some of the major risks may include:

Some women may be threatened with losing their caregiver if they get help or end the relationship. These women may fear that this loss could result in them being placed in an institution or nursing home.

In some cases, women who are abused become disabled as a result of the domestic violence they experience. In these cases, the victim will face several traumatic things - the domestic violence incidents and the onset of a disability. There will be many challenges and changes that she will have to deal with. Disabilities resulting from abuse can range from actual physical disabilities to more hidden problems, like head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For more information, visit the Barrier Free Living website.