New feature: Domestic violence and disabled women

// 13 July 2008

Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic violence, and can face a range of additional barriers – from inaccessible shelters onwards, Clare Laxton reports

It is a well known fact among women’s networks and feminists that two women die every week at the hands of their partner or former partner, and that one in four women in the UK will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

These statistics continue to shock (and unfortunately continue to be true) as campaigners, practitioners and women rally against the violence against women that still exists in our society. There are some women in the UK for whom domestic violence is an even bigger threat.

Disabled women are twice as likely as non-disabled women to experience domestic violence.

Shocking right?

According to recent ground-breaking research by Women’s Aid, disabled women are also much more likely to experience a shortfall in domestic violence services. Lack of funding and resources for all domestic violence and disabled people’s groups makes it even more difficult to tackle the reality of disabled women’s experiences of domestic violence, but these researchers – and myself – believe that this should not hold us back from debating and talking about the issue.

Before I go any further, I just have to say that this article – and indeed the Women’s Aid research – supports the social model of disability. The social model of disability proposes that a person is disabled by the disabling barriers of society and not the particular circumstances of their impairment. These barriers can arise from disabling attitudes, prejudice and exclusion. The social model directly challenges the negative views that society has of disabled people and their ability to participate fully in society.

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