Anyone can experience domestic and family violence regardless of age, gender, culture, religion or socio-economic status. Tragically, however, it thrives in situations of inequality, such as when people are vulnerable and dependent on others. It is difficult for anyone to escape a situation of domestic and family violence but there are additional barriers for people with disabilities.
The number of Canberrans with a disability is around 62,000 or 16.4% of the total population. (ABS SDAC 2015)
The full extent of violence against people with disabilities is unknown, but research has shown that women and girls with disabilities may be twice as likely to experience violence as those without disabilities and that men with disabilities also experience higher rates of abuse than men without disabilities. The abuser could be a husband or partner, carer, parent, child, family member or someone else who lives with the person with a disability.
Violence against any person is unacceptable. Domestic and family violence is not your fault. It is not ok and it is against the law.
At DVCS we support everyone affected by domestic and family violence. If you, or someone you know, are experiencing domestic and family violence we are here to help and we encourage you to contact us.
What is domestic and family violence
Domestic and family violence is when someone intentionally uses violence, threats, force or intimidation to control or manipulate a family member, partner or former partner. It does not have to occur within the home or between people who are living together.
The violence is intentional and systematic and often increases in frequency and severity the longer the relationship goes on. It is about power and control and it is intended to cause fear.
For people with disabilities, domestic and family violence can include lots of different types of abuse:
- Emotional or psychological abuse: being called names or being put down, denying access to ‘small pleasures’, threatening institutionalisation.
- Neglect: withholding medication, personal (hygiene) or medical care, using medication to sedate, removing wheelchairs or other accessibility devices, receiving the career’s pension without providing the care.
- Financial abuse: using someone’s money, property or other assets illegally or improperly, forcing someone to change their will or sign documents, using a power of attorney to withhold money or misuse finances, not allowing the person to keep or carry their own money.
- Physical abuse: hitting, slapping, pushing or using restraints, providing care in a rough or cruel manner.
- Social abuse: forcing someone to become isolated by restricting their access to others including family, friends or services.
- Sexual Abuse: any sexual activity for which the person has not consented, withholding needed care in exchange for sexual favours.
You might feel you have done something wrong, or something to cause the violence or abuse. This is not true. Violence and abuse is never ok. You might:
- feel unsafe in your home
- blame yourself for the abuse
- feel like you’re walking on egg shells
- jump at every little sound
- feel like you’re waiting for an explosion
- feel you have to ask permission to do anything or spend money.
Remember these things
If you are worried you, or someone close to you, is being abused please remember:
- Threats, and physical and sexual violence are all illegal.
- The abuser might blame you, or make you feel responsible, ashamed or guilty.
- You are not to blame for someone else’s actions. What they have done is wrong. It is not your fault and it is against the law.
- The ACT law offers the same protection to people with a disability as it does to any other victim of domestic and family violence.
- Our supporting someone page contains advice on what you can do to help someone you are worried about.
Need to talk?
If you or someone you know is in a life-threatening situation please call the police on 000.
To access our crisis intervention services call our 24/7 crisis telephone line 02 6280 0900. If it isn’t urgent another contact option is to email firstname.lastname@example.org; this email is only monitored during business hours. You are welcome to call us reverse charges. If you live outside the ACT please call 1800RESPECT.
We do not make any sound recordings of our conversations. You do not need to give us your name, but if you do we make notes that we spoke to you. If you are unsure, please let us know at the start of the call and we can tell you about our confidentiality policy.
Links and related information