Women With Disabilities

Women with Disabilities

Power and Control Tactics Used Against Women with Disabilities


  • pushing a person out of her wheelchair
  • hurting her 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


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


  • 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


  • telling a woman with a disability that she will be sent to a nursing home and lose her freedom if she reports the violence
  • implying that physical violence will be committed (e.g., “I’m going to kick your butt.”)

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


  • refusing to allow a person that needs assistance to practice her chosen customs
  • telling a person her or his 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

A Note on Terminology

Domestic violence/relationship abuse refers to intimate relationships, not child abuse. Because the vast majority of relationship abuse is committed by men against women in heterosexual relationships, this website sometimes contains the female gender pronoun when referring to the abused person. Domestic violence/relationship abuse happens at the same rate in LGBTQQ relationships and all of the information on this site is relevant for male victims and for individuals in same-gender relationships. In addition, please see our resources on same-gender relationships. Our goal is to encourage helping professionals to be gender inclusive. This includes using gender-neutral language when working with individuals, while continuing to analyze gender as a construct that has implications on gender-based violence in both heterosexual and same-gender relationships.