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About Abuse

Abuse Among People with Disabilities

Updated: May 14, 2024

What are some unique barriers that I may face when trying to find help?

As a person with a disability, it may be hard for you to find help because you may face barriers that other victims may not. Some particular barriers you may experience are: 

  • physical and social isolation, particularly in institutional settings, which can lead to a lack of knowledge about available services and resources, as well as a lack of awareness of legal rights;
  • limited access to services due to a lack of resources, transportation, or physical barriers at service locations;
  • lack of the skills or abilities that would be needed to seek help independently;
  • lack of access to information about domestic violence services that are tailored to your needs or that are available in accessible formats such as Braille, large print, or audio tapes;
  • the risk of losing your only source of care, if you report the abuse by your primary caretaker;
  • the possibility of facing institutionalization or loss of decision-making rights if seen as unable to care for yourself without the help of the abuser;
  • a greater risk of losing custody of your children if you are viewed as being unable to care for children independently from an abusive caretaker;
  • the justice system’s prejudice against victims with disabilities can deny you access to justice in the courts;
  • limited self-advocacy and access to decision-making processes;
  • belief in the myth that you cannot make choices or determine for yourself what is best for you in all areas of life, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, political, sexual, and financial; and
  • the perception that you are “suffering” and that people need to be kind to you rather than extending legal rights and protections, as with other oppressed groups.1

1 Domestic violence and disabilities, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Guidry Tyiska, C., Working with Victims of Crime with Disabilities, Office for Victims of Crime