Study: People with disabilities at heightened risk of abuse

Close-up of a wheelchair wheel

At a recent SAFE Disability Services class for people with intellectual disabilities, one attendee spoke up during a discussion on healthy and unhealthy relationships.

She said that many years ago, her husband took her away from her family and trafficked her for sex. After being beaten and abandoned, she found a way to call her family to tell them she was hurt and wanted to come home.

After sharing this story, she turned around in her chair and told her classmates that it was important to leave whenever it “felt unsafe.”

At SAFE, we know that people with disabilities, particularly people with intellectual disabilities, are more likely to experience domestic violence and sexual assault.

Research to back it up

According to a recently-released national study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of violent victimization – including domestic and sexual violence – was 2.5 times higher for people with disabilities than for people without disabilities. People with cognitive or intellectual disabilities were almost five times more likely to experience violent victimization than people without disabilities.

This high risk for abuse and violence is why for more than 20 years, SAFE’s Disability Services program has provided education and training to more than 77,000 people with disabilities, family members, and professionals in the field. It’s also why SAFE works to foster a welcoming, inclusive, accessible environment for all survivors of abuse.

 

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