People With Disabilities
The nature of abuse does not change much for victims of domestic violence who have a disability, but the abuser may use the disability as a way to control their partner. Also, a person with disabilities who is abused may depend upon the abuser to help meet their basic needs, such as food, medication, finances, personal care, or adaptive equipment.
An abuser may use their partner’s disability as a way to cause harm, such as:
- placing something in the way of a victim who is blind, causing them to fall;
- taking a wheelchair away from a victim who needs it to get around;
- disabling assistive devices (like hearing aids) used by someone who is hearing impaired; or
- threatening to have their partner placed in an institution or nursing home.
The abuser may also use the disability to mislead police and others. Examples include:
- communicating or interpreting for their partner by sign language;
- providing false information about medication;
- using their deaf partner’s communication device without permission, to communicate with others posing as the partner; and
- implying that their partner is "stupid," "crazy," or "drunk."
When people with disabilities try to escape abuse, they may face a number of risks. Some of the major risks may include:
- not being able to contact or get to service providers;
- lack of accessible transportation;
- lack of affordable and accessible housing;
- difficulties with communication; and
- a general lack of understanding about disabilities among the general public that might make it hard to get help.
Some people may be threatened with losing their caregiver if they get help or end the relationship. They may fear that this loss could result in them being placed in an institution or nursing home.
Sometimes, people who are abused become disabled as a result of the domestic violence they experience. There will be many challenges and changes that they will have to deal with. Disabilities resulting from abuse can range from actual physical disabilities to more hidden problems, like head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For more information, visit the Barrier Free Living website: bit.ly/BFLNYC.