Womxn with disabilities encompasses a wide spectrum that includes numerous unique types, degrees, and expressions of impairments; these can include physical, developmental and psychological disabilities, and may not always be visible. According to a US Department of Justice report, in 2013, men perpetrated violence against womxn with disabilities at double the rate than against individuals without disabilities. Men who commit violence or abuse against womxn with disabilities are oftentimes spouses or partners; the perpetrators may feel empowered to harm the survivor due to the survivor’s reliance on the abuser, who may double as a caretaker. Abusers may utilize control tactics to coerce the survivor or to isolate the survivor, including withholding essential medical equipment or refusing to bathe them. This is abuse, and all gender based violence resources and services must be fully accessible to people in the disability community.

Learn more about abuse in disability communities and find resources here:

Physical

  • pushing a person out of their wheelchair
  • hurting their service animal
  • hitting, shaking, and burning
  • the administration of poisonous substances or inappropriate drugs
  • inappropriate handling of personal or medical care
  • over-use of restraint or inappropriate behavior modification
  • false information given to the medical/psychiatric community resulting in wrongful diagnosis

Emotional

  • isolating a person from family and friends
  • intensely criticizing a person that needs assistance with their daily activities
  • withholding love and affection
  • verbal attacks
  • taunting, threats (of withdrawal of services or of institutionalization), insults and harassment

Economic

  • a caregiver or partner stealing money
  • misusing financial resources
  • lying about the state of a person’s finances
  • the denial of access to, and control over, individuals’ own funds
  • forcing a person to lie to or exploit governmental benefit systems

Verbal

  • telling a womxn with a disability that they will be sent to a nursing home and lose their freedom if they reports the violence
  • implying that physical violence will be committed (e.g., “I’m going to kick your butt.”)
  • actively misgendering an individual or invalidating their gender identity

Sexual Abuse

  • forcing a person to perform sexual favors in exchange for assistance with essential services (bathing, eating)
  • unwanted or forced sexual contact, touching, or displays of sexual parts
  • threats of harm or coercion in connection with sexual activity
  • denial of sexuality and of sexual education
  • forced abortion, birth control or sterilization

Spiritual

  • refusing to allow a person that needs assistance to practice their chosen customs
  • telling a person their disability is the result of sin
  • spiritual isolation and spiritual embarrassment
  • mocking, ridiculing, or even denying practice of someone’s spiritual beliefs
  • unfairly using sacred practices to control a person: to justify abuse, or to prevent safety or healing