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Health Resource Center

Violence and Abuse

Abuse of Women with Disabilities

Women and girls with disabilities experience a very high rate of violence. In addition to struggling with the same problems as other women who are abused, we often face additional barriers:  we may be physically frail; we may be dependent on the batterer for daily care;  the local shelter for battered women may not be set up to accommodate our disabilities. We may fear that if we seek help to end the abuse we will be forced into a nursing home. If the batterer is a spouse with whom we have lived for many years, it may be especially difficult to end the relationship. If the batterer is our adult child, calling for help from a social service agency or the police may be unimaginable.

Abuse laws that may affect us as women with disabilites and/or as women over age 65 may be similar to child abuse laws in that they require service providers to report instances of abuse to public health authorities or social service agencies. This approach may conflict with the deep commitment of the battered women's movement to empowering victims of violence and protecting our right to privacy and confidentiality.

Increasingly, the domestic violence service community is addressing the needs of clients with disabilities. Constructing barrier-free shelters, renovating existing shelters to be fully accessible to all battered women and our children, and having the option to house or provide caretakers are important parts of the effort to respond comprehensively to violence against women. 

For more information, see

Last revised: March 2005

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