The Need for Violence Prevention Programs for People with Disabilities

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  • It is estimated that individuals with disabilities are between two to four times as likely to be exploited sexually as their counterparts without disabilities and greater risk for severe violence more than 70% of women with disabilities have been victims of sexual violence at some time in their lives It is important to emphasize the fact that while persons with intellectual disabilities, communication disabilities and significant behavioral problems are seen as being most vulnerable Furthermore, the victimization of individuals with disabilities is more likely to be longer lasting than it is for persons without disabilities Similar to estimates within the general population, there is a greater chance that the perpetrator is someone known to them rather than a stranger. Individuals with disabilities have been reported to be victimized by strangers only 8 percent of the time
  • All forms of abuse involve the perpetrator exercising power and control over the victim (Powers & Oschwald, 2002)
  • While there are several factors that place people with disabilities at greater risk for being abused, there are many factors and/or barriers that prevent the abused from seeking safety and support. One of the most obvious challenges is the lack of accessible services for people with disabilities. Other barriers that people with disabilities face when leaving an abusive relationship include ( Accessing Safety Initiative, 2010) :   Limited access to services and support Lack of options for leaving in community Fear of institutionalization Lack of economic resources due to inability to work Isolation from family and friends Fear for safety, care, and custody of children because of societal perceptions of the abilities of women with disabilities- 65% of women who experience violence and who are killed are murdered by their abusers when, or after, they leave. Abuser is primary caregiver Severity of abuse is minimized because of "caregiver stress" Self-blame, believing abuse is deserved because of certain disabilities or limitations Finally, it is important to note that leaving an abusive relationship is a process. For many women, part of that process involves leaving and going back, sometimes multiple times, before finally leaving the relationship.
  • The most highly rated strategies were education for women to recognize abuse; increasing women’s access to resources such as crisis lines, emergency transportation, shelters, and support groups; assigning clear duties and setting limits with personal assistants; being able to choose one’s personal assistant; and having a backup personal assistant. Number of mechanisms through which interventions may ultimately lead to increased safety: safety and abuse awareness, self-efficacy to take action to protect one's self and safety promoting behavior, may be more amenable to change over a shorter time interval
  • The Need for Violence Prevention Programs for People with Disabilities

    1. 1. The Need for Violence Prevention Programs for People with Disabilities By Avital Sandler-Loeff and Orly Fruchter
    2. 2. Prevalence <ul><li>Individuals with disabilities are between two to four times as likely to be exploited sexually as their counterparts without disabilities (Brownridge, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>More than 70% of women with disabilities have been victims of sexual violence at some point in their lives (Stimpson & Best, 1991) </li></ul><ul><li>The victimization of individuals with disabilities is more likely to be longer lasting and more severe (Nosek, Howland & Young, 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>92 % of the abuse reported have been committed by people they know (Sobsey & Doe, 1991) </li></ul><ul><li>65 % of women murdered by their abuser occurred while trying to leave or after leaving the abusive situation (Accessing Safety Initiative, 2010) </li></ul>
    3. 3. Types of Abuse <ul><li>Abuse not specific to People with disabilities: </li></ul><ul><li>Physical abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Verbal or emotional abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Social abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Financial exploitation </li></ul><ul><li>Abuse specific to people with disabilities: </li></ul><ul><li>Neglect or withholding support </li></ul><ul><li>Misuse of medication </li></ul><ul><li>Destroying or misuse of equipment </li></ul><ul><li>Violation of the right to freedom </li></ul>(Heilporn, André, Didier & Chamberlain, 2006)
    4. 4. Factors that Prevent Leaving Abuser: <ul><li>Abuser is the primary caregiver </li></ul><ul><li>Limited access to services and support </li></ul><ul><li>Fear for safety, care, and custody of children </li></ul><ul><li>Isolation from family and friends </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of financial support </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of institutionalization </li></ul><ul><li>Self-blame </li></ul><ul><li>(Accessing Safety Initiative, 2010) </li></ul>
    5. 5. Addressing the Problem <ul><li>Israel Unlimited (Massad disabilities) is developing Safety planning programs to educate people with disabilities about preventing violence. </li></ul><ul><li>Safety planning programs will include: </li></ul><ul><li>Methods for recognizing abuse; Resources such as crisis lines, emergency transportation and shelters; Implementing limits and clear duties for personal assistants and having a backup personal assistant, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>(Accessing Safety Initiative, 2010) </li></ul>
    6. 6. Programs from the United States <ul><li>Escape DD (Columbia University, NY)- An effective strategy-based curriculum for abuse prevention and empowerment for adults with developmental disabilities consisting of 12 curriculum lessons and 6 support group sessions </li></ul><ul><li>A Safety Awareness Program (SafePlace, Austin, TX) Abuse prevention education to empower individuals of all ages and various disabilities about their rights to personal safety and to teach them skills to protect themselves from abuse through discussions, drawings, the use of anatomically correct dolls/models and role-playing activities </li></ul>
    7. 7. Programs from the United States cont. <ul><li>Safe and Strong Program (Oschwald, Renker, Hughes, Arthur, Powers & Curry, 2009)- Audio Computer based program developed to provide an accessible and anonymous method for women with disabilities and deaf women self-screen for interpersonal violence, become exposed to perpetrator risk characteristics, and learn safety promoting behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>Impact (Malden, MA)- Works to prevent violence and abuse by giving people realistic personal safety training to respond appropriately to threatening situations in the moment of fear or intimidation while advocating for healthy relationships and sexual respect </li></ul>

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