Women with disability are twice as likely to experience sexual assault, domestic and family violence than others and are faced with barriers when seeking support, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
As it can sometimes be hard to identify and define what violence is, it can mean these women experience domestic violence for longer. According to research by Safe Steps in the UK, women with disability wait on average three years before reaching out for support, whilst other women wait for around two years.
1800RESPECT have launched its campaign That is Violence, aimed at reaching these at-risk women. It defines what violence is, and the situations or circumstances where it can arise and encourages them to reach out for support when they’re ready.
1800RESPECT General Manager Nicole McMahon said it is important this community of women know they will be listened to, understood and believed.
“All women have the right to live safely and without fear. Violence is never okay, defining what it is and knowing where to seek help is incredibly important.”
“The recent launch of the 1800RESPECT Sunny app has increased awareness of the support available, helping people with disability define violence, know their rights and break down barriers to support.”
The barriers women with disability face when impacted by sexual assault, domestic and family violence, include:
Reliance on the person using violence, for example, for personal care, mobility, income, parenting support or transport
Lack of support options and awareness of support options
Lack of economic resources or sufficient income Lack of awareness that the violence they are experiencing is wrong
Social isolation that stems from the marginalised position of people with disabilities in our society
Limited supervision in a community residential or other institutional settings
Communication challenges and lack of access to interpreters, communication devices and information in appropriate formats
Normalisation of the experience of being controlled and abused (especially if this has been accepted by authority figures, for example, when a carer is asked to 'speak for' a person with a disability)
That is Violence is built in partnership with 1800RESPECT’s Disability Pathway Project Expert Advisory Group. This group comprises professionals and advocates from the disability, social justice, and domestic violence sectors, including representatives from Women With Disabilities, ANROWS and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA).
This media release was originally published on the Medibank website.