Developmental Disabilities and Abuse: Know the Facts

By Dana Fleitman, Program Coordinator

Though research on violence against women with disabilities is limited, a 2009 research update from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence highlights findings showing that women with disabilities experience shockingly high rates of abuse and violence. These findings include:

  • Women with disabilities are more likely to experience physical and sexual violence, increased severity of violence, multiple forms of violence, and longer duration of violence.
  • People with disabilities experience over twice the rate of rape or sexual assault than persons without a disability.
  • In one survey of 200 women with mobility disabilities, and mobility and intellectual disabilities, 30% of the women reported that interpersonal violence kept them from maintaining employment, 61% said interpersonal violence stood in the way of independent living, and 64% indicated interpersonal violence kept them from caring for their health.
  • Women with intellectual disabilities identify more barriers to reporting violence than women without disabilities, such as fear of losing independence, past negative experiences in reporting, and perpetrator retaliation.

The CDC reports that 27 million women in the US have some type of disability, and the prevalence of developmental disabilities is increasing.

Want to know more? Join our upcoming National Alliance webinar, “Working with Survivors with Developmental Disabilities,” by registering here. The webinar will take place on Thursday, January 17th from 12 to 1:30pm Eastern and features expert speakers Paul Feuerstein (Barrier Free Living), Shirley Paceley (Blue Tower Training) and Nancy Smith (Vera Institute of Justice).


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