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1 Reducing the Risks of Abuse Against Individuals with Disabilities Disability Services ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program)

2 Reducing the Risks of Abuse Against Individuals with Disabilities Disability Services ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program)

3 Agenda  About SafePlace  Risk factors for abuse  Strategies for reducing the risks  Where to find help  Building relationships  Resources

4 SafePlace Vision—a community free of rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence. Mission—to end sexual and domestic violence through safety, healing and social change.  Provide safety for individuals and families  Help in healing to move beyond being defined as crime victims  Promote safe and healthy relationships for prevention of sexual and domestic violence  Works with others to create change in attitudes, behaviors and policies

5 Disability Services ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program) In 1996 SafePlace, established a Disability Services ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program) program. Disability Services ASAP program staff focus on increasing awareness and reducing the risks of violence and abuse against people with disabilities. Visit our website:

6 National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS)  When adjusted for age, rates of nonfatal violent crime against persons with disabilities was 1.5 times higher than the rate for persons without disabilities.  Females with disabilities experienced a rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate of females who do not have disabilities (when adjusted for age). As cited in the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. National Crime Victimization Survey – Crime Against People with Disabilities, 2007 by Rand, M. and Harrell, E.

7 National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS)  Police responded to fewer crimes against victims with disabilities than to crimes where the victim did not have a disability.  Persons with a disability related to cognitive functioning had a higher risk of victimization than people with any other type of disability. As cited in the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. National Crime Victimization Survey – Crime Against People with Disabilities, 2007 by Rand, M. and Harrell, E.

8 The findings of a recent review of empirical literature on interpersonal violence against people with disabilities concluded that “especially when assessed over the course of their lives, interpersonal violence occurs at elevated and disproportionate rates among women and men with disabilities.” Hughes, Rosemary B.; Lund, Emily M.; Gabrielli, Joy; Powers, Laurie E.; Curry, Mary Ann (2011). Rehabilitation Psychology, Vol 56(4), Nov 2011, 302-319.

9 Disability Services ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program) Disability Services ASAP staff provides education and training for professionals (i.e., disability service providers, domestic and sexual violence agency staff, criminal justice personnel) to help increase awareness about and prevent sexual and domestic violence and abuse against people with disabilities.

10 Disability Services ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program) The program staff also offer technical assistance and / or consultation to individuals and organizations seeking information and guidance to reduce the risks of abuse against people who have disabilities or to increase accessibility of victim service agencies or programs to survivors of abuse who have disabilities.

11 Defining Terms Domestic Violence, also called Family Violence, refers to the willful intimidation, assault, battery, sexual assault or other violent and abusive behaviors perpetrated by one family member, household member, or intimate partner against another.

12 Domestic Violence In most state laws addressing domestic violence, the relationship necessary for a charge of domestic assault or abuse generally includes a spouse, former spouse, persons currently residing together or those that have within the previous year, or persons who share a common child. National Center for Victims of Crime

13 Caregiver Abuse is what happens when a caregiver begins to exert their will over the will of the person with a disability. Caregiver abuse can involve any type of maltreatment or abuse including disability related forms of abuse. It is the abuse of power in a relationship where the individual has the right to safety. SafePlace, 2006

14 Defining the Caregiver “One or more persons assisting another person with tasks which the individual would typically do [for themselves] if they did not have a disability.” (Litvak, 1991)

15 Sexual Violence can takes many forms including attacks like rape or attempted rape and includes any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Abuser can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family members and they can commit sexual assault by using violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure or tricks. Whatever the circumstances, no one asks or deserves to be abused or assaulted.

16 The Dynamics Disability and Domestic Violence Risk Factors and Differences

17 Similarities  Same forms of violence  Isolation  Tends to get worse over time  Perpetrator’s sense of entitlement  Survivor is blamed for the violence  Survivor tends to believe it’s her/his fault  Survivor may believe it can’t be different  Imbalance of power

18 Differences  Perceived as easy target  Less credible as witness  Boundaries may be routinely violated  Violence may focus on aspects of disability  Disability-related resources may be withheld  Caregiver or personal attendant violence

19 Factors that Increase Risks for Abuse  Isolation and segregation  Reliance on others  Communication barriers  Physical or medical barriers  Loss of independence  Lack of privacy  Learned compliance  Socialized denial of sexuality

20 Strategies for Reducing Risks  Reduce isolation  Understand Power and Control dynamics  Provide Personal Safety education  Healthy relationships  Sexuality  Respond sensitively to abuse disclosures  Know where to find help

21 Methods of Power and Control  Withholds, misuses or delays needed supports (e.g., using medication to sedate, breaking equipment to immobilize person, etc.)  Controls access to family, friends and neighbors  Blames the person’s disability for the abuse  Provides care in a way that will increase the person’s dependence

22 Methods of Power and Control  Works to gain person’s trust  Person begins to lower inhibitions  Begins to create a closed system  Violation occurs  Abuse may be subtle at first  Tends to escalate  Too good to be true?

23 “…do not teach me to be obedient, submissive and polite. I need to feel entitled to say “No” if I am to protect myself….” Source. A Credo for Support (1995), Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift

24 Risk Reduction Education  Identify abuse and abusive relationships  Provide strategies for personal safety and building healthy relationships.  Identify resources and trusted people who can support the person’s safety.  Provide information on where to find help  Build connections and reduce isolation

25 A Group Safety Awareness Program for Women with Diverse Disabilities A Research Project led by Dr. Rosemary Hughes at the University of Montana in close collaboration with SafePlace Disability Services ASAP, Baylor College of Medicine, and 12 Centers for Independent Living Funded by the National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research Award #H133G070196

26 Results Summary  Women who participated in ASAP for Women experienced greater improvements on safety protective factors than women receiving only regular services from their center for independent living.  Many improvements continued beyond the post- test and were observed at the 6 month follow-up.  ASAP for Women offers promise as a community- based group intervention for enhancing safety protective factors in women with disabilities. Rosemary Hughes, 2012

27 Consider “asking questions about abuse and addressing issues of abuse as part of your routine protocol while working with women [and men] with disabilities. Then you can provide information and the necessary resources and supports to help the [person] break the cycle of violence in [their] life.” Lagergren-Fieberg & Schaller, 1998

28 Responding that Supports Healing To be believed Time and space for feelings Honesty Options and choices To be safe Pittsburgh Action Against Rape Pittsburgh, PA

29 Planning for Safety What is safety planning? Practical tool Changes with changing circumstances Survivor centered Explore different options for safety Honor survivor’s choices Implementation is survivor driven

30 Mandatory Reporting To make a report of suspected abuse to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS), call the 24-hour hotline at (800) 252-5400 or report online at To make a report of suspected abuse to Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), call the statewide toll-free number at (800) 458-9858.

31 Crisis Agencies Core Services  Hotline (24/7)  Emergency Shelter (who gets in?)  Sexual assault hospital accompaniment  Individual counseling / support groups  Resource advocacy  Legal advocacy  Safety planning

32 Building Relationships  Build relationships with domestic violence and sexual assault centers in your area  Exchange information about each others services and how to make effective referrals  Offer to provide and host cross-trainings with victim service agencies in your community  Create a taskforce or workgroup to explore common interests and how you can support abuse survivors with disabilities

33 Resources Texas Council on Family Violence See “Allies to Survivors with Disabilities” Texas Council on Family Violence Service Directory Texas Association Against Sexual Assault SafePlace – Disability Services Program (ASAP)

34 Resources The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233 (voice) or (800) 787-3224 (TTY) The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network Voice Hotline: (800) 656-4673 (voice) Online Hotline: SafePlace 24 Hour Hotline (512) 267-SAFE (7233) or 1-800- (512) 927-9696 TTY

35 Further Education The Gift of Fear, and other survivor signals that protect us from violence By Gavin De Becker

36 The Ethics of Touch By David Hinsberger

37 Is this Abuse? Is this Abuse? An essential training for all direct care staff working in the field of Developmental Disabilities. Published by: YAI National Institute for People with Disabilities:

38 What Else Can You Do?  Be available and be kind  Be accessible— be a safe person  Continue your own education  Find out what a survivor does well and help them build on it  Know that people do recover and heal  Be witness to a survivors hope

39 SafePlace Disability Services Program ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program) Michelle (Shell) Schwartz, M.A. 512.356.1627 -

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