Responding to Women with a Disability

DV-DisabilityLife experiences of some people (mostly, but not only, women) with disabilities can make them more likely to experience domestic violence including sexual assault.

Women with disabilities:
  • Often lack support to deal with the violence
  • May live in an institutional setting with little privacy and isolation from public scrutiny
  • May be dependant on a carer who is being abusive
  • May be unable to communicate well and not know their rights.
  • Are often blamed or disbelieved and not seen as a ‘credible witness’
  • Fear that in reporting violence nothing will be done, the abuse may worsen or they will have no where to live.

Women with disabilities suffer the same profound effects of domestic violence as women without disabilities.

She may be:

  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Blaming herself for the violence
  • Showing obvious signs of physical abuse or injury
  • Experiencing shame and self harming behaviour
  • Displaying low self esteem
  • Isolated
  • Used to having her decisions made for her
  • Having flashbacks.

You can:

  • Make time, listen and don’t judge
  • Help her find ways to keep safe
  • Reassure her she is not to blame
  • Reinforce that she has a right to live safely from violence
  • Support her, practically and emotionally, to access medical assistance, police, and support services with an advocate
  • Normalise her response as a natural and common response to trauma
  • Allow her to make decisions in her own time.
ADHC* Northern Regional Office and Lismore Community Access Office
(Tea Gardens to Tweed Heads to Moree)
1300 364 563 (freecall)
Disability Advocacy
1300 365 085 (freecall)
Intellectual Disability Rights Service
1800 666 611 (freecall)