News | October 26, 2018

Domestic Violence Impacting Those with Disabilities

The WCA assists anybody regardless of disability status. Domestic violence and sexual assault can affect anyone regardless of race, class, gender, etc. One group that often is forgotten is people with disabilities. People with disabilities are more vulnerable to abuse than people without disabilities. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it’s important for us to better understand the intersection of domestic violence and disability.

Disability and Domestic Violence

According the Equal Rights center, there are four key ways that disability and domestic violence are connected:

  1. Domestic violence can cause temporary or permanent disability.
  2. People with disabilities experience higher rates of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse.
  3. Instances of violence, assault and abuse against a person with a disability often take on “non-traditional” forms.
  4. People with disabilities face additional barriers when seeking help.

National Attention

National Public Radio covered this topic at the beginning of the year in a special series “abused and betrayed.” They reported on data from the Justice Department that shows “people with intellectual disabilities are victims of sexual assaults at rates more than seven times for people without disabilities.” Thanks to this report, sexual assault and domestic violence against people with disabilities is talked about more and more in the public on a national level.


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found these six facts about people with disabilities and domestic violence taken from peer-reviewed articles.

  1. People with disabilities have a higher lifetime prevalence of experiencing abuse than people without disabilities.
  2. People with disabilities experience violent crime at twice the rate of people without disabilities.
  3. People with disabilities are three times as likely to be sexually assaulted as their peers without disabilities.
  4. In 2008, intimate partners perpetrated 27% of violent crime against women with disabilities and 1.1% of crime against men with disabilities.
  5. Police are less likely to respond to reported violence against victims with disabilities than they are to reported violence against victims without disabilities. Police respond to 90% of reports by victims without disabilities and 77% of reports by victims with disabilities.
  6. A survey conducted by the Spectrum Institute Disability and Abuse Project found that 70% of respondents with disabilities experienced some form of abuse by an intimate partner, family member, caregiver, acquaintance or stranger. Of those …
    • 2% experienced verbal/emotional abuse
    • 6% experienced physical abuse
    • 6% experienced sexual abuse
    • 4% experienced neglect
    • 5% experienced financial abuse
    • 3% reported the abuse to law enforcement
    • Alleged perpetrators were arrested in 10% of abuse cases reported to law enforcement.

The WCA Helps

The WCA actively works toward reducing barriers for people with disabilities trying to seek help. For example, the new WCA building is designed specifically to be accessible to all persons. People with disabilities have unique needs, and the WCA works to meet those needs so each person can receive high- quality services. As part of the WCA’s efforts to improving services to people with disabilities, the agency is currently working under a federal Disability Grant from the Office on Violence Against Women.

The WCA is proud to be an organization that recognizes and prioritizes the needs of people with disabilities.