A review of current research by Public Health England in 2015 confirmed that people with disabilities are more vulnerable to domestic violence and will often face additional difficulties in attempting to access support.
Someone who is disabled and experiencing domestic abuse a may find it harder to protect themselves,access sources of help or remove themselves from the abusive situation; the disabled person may be reliant on the abuser for personal care or mobility. They can be subject to physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse in any or all of the ways that non-disabled people are abused, but in addition they may experience the following forms of abusive behaviour:
- An abuser may withhold care from them or undertake it neglectfully or abusively.
- An abuser may remove mobility or sensory devices that they need for independence.
- An abuser may be claiming state benefits in order to care for them - enabling them to control your finances more effectively.
- An abuser may use their disability to taunt or degrade them.
Difficulties with disclosure
They may already be socially isolated because of their disability but also find it harder to disclose abuse because they have no opportunity to see health or social care professionals without their abuser being present. They may have particular concerns about moving out of their home as it may have been specially adapted for them, or perhaps a care package has been organised and they are worried that they will lose their current level of independence if you are forced to move elsewhere. They may be reluctant to report domestic abuse from a partner whose care they depend on, and which they believe enables them to stay out of institutional care.
As a disabled person, they may be regarded as a “vulnerable adult” or "adult at risk", and in this case there are multi-agency policies and procedures for the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable adults.
Buckinghamshire County Council has released a poster and leaflet highlighting the issues around abuse of adults with disabilities; the vast majority of information and resources they contain are relevant wherever you are in the UK. You can download them here:
We've also been playing two audio adverts to raise awareness -- if you're in the Thames Valley area you may have caught them on the radio.
National support and advice
SafeLives produced a report on DA in older people- Safe Older Lives- Older People and Domestic Abuse, 2016
Action on Elder Abuse:
We work to protect, and prevent the abuse of, vulnerable older adults and by doing so we also protect other adults a risk of abuse. We were the first charity to address these problems and are the only charity in the UK and in Ireland working exclusively on the issue today. Consequently, when you provide support to us, or make a donation, you can be sure that it will be used exclusively on issues relating to elder abuse and nothing else.
Helpline: 0808 808 8141
Disability Information and Advice Line (DIAL) services are run for and by disabled people. Every year, DIALs support around half a million disabled people.
Information and support for anyone with visual impairment and sight problems.
Tel: 0303 123 9999, Weekdays 8:45am to 5:30pm.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or online contact form
DeafHope is the only sign-language based service designed to help Deaf women and children who suffer domestic violence. Deaf women are more at risk of domestic abuse than hearing women. When sign language is the main way you communicate it can be very hard to get help.
Text: 07970 350366
Voice/minicom: 020 8772 3241
Fax: 020 8772 3242
Information service for deaf and hard of hearing people, their carers, families and professionals.
Tel: 0808 808 0123, Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm.
A registered charity providing advice and support to disabled people with learning difficulties who have been abused.
Helpline: 0808 808 0700.