New Report Examines Services for Abused Women with Disabilities
Saturday, April 30, 2011 7:10 PM

The Center for Women Policy Studies has released a report aiming to promote equal access to services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, irrespective of ability level. The report, Women, Disability and Violence: Strategies to Increase Physical and Programmatic Access to Victims' Services for Women with Disabilities, explains that victimized women with disabilities are less likely to seek services in abuse shelters and programs than are women without disabilities. In the United States, approximately 15 percent of women have at least one disability. Women with disabilities identify violence and abuse as the most prevalent issue they face, according to this report.

The report identifies several failures in inter-agency collaboration between disability service providers and domestic violence service providers, including that initially domestic abuse service providers expressed an occasional frustration with the communication with women with disabilities which sometimes made it more challenging to provide services. On the other hand, "some disability service providers misunderstood the complex dynamics of domestic violence, sexual assault, and the needs of victims/survivors, resulting in a tendency to dismiss domestic violence issues and victims as not requiring serious attention." In some cases, the inter-agency approach failed to be effective due to a lack of execution of the agreed upon plan for collaboration.

To remedy these problems, the analysis suggests several practices to increase cross-disciplinary inter-agency collaboration. Most specifically, it encourages clear communication and defined parameters of expectations, especially with regards to policies, protocols, procedures, and budgets. In doing so, the report hopes agencies will consolidate a more centralized pool of information and resources and provide more accommodating environments for victims with disabilities.

Compiled from: Women's United Nations Report Network, Center for Women Policy Studies, (15 April 2011).