Findings from the study of
Independent Living Center abuse services
A 1992 survey by the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities made it clear that abuse is a serious
problem for women with disabilities.
- Women with physical disabilities who responded to the survey experienced emotional, physical, or sexual
abuse just as often as the women without disabilities who responded. 62% of the women with physical
disabilities had experienced abuse at some time during their life, and 13% had experienced physical or sexual
abuse during the year prior to the survey.
- Women with physical disabilities reported being abused by spouses, live-in partners, other family members,
people whom they were dating, health care professionals, and personal attendants.
Women with disabilities who are being abused encounter disability-related problems in dealing with the
- They fear reporting the abuse because they rely on the person who is abusing them for personal assistance
and/or financial support. They fear losing their independence if they cannot find a replacement for the abusive
- Women with disabilities experience abuse related to their disability, such as withholding assistive devices,
medications, or personal assistance.
- Women who need to enter a domestic violence shelter sometimes have trouble obtaining a personal assistant
while they are in the shelter. They may lose assistive devices and medications because they have to leave
home quickly in a crisis.
Independent living centers may be an initial point of contact for women with disabilities experiencing abuse.
ILC staff are in a unique position to offer counseling and referral for their consumers who are being abused.
A 1998 survey of independent living centers, conducted by the Center for Research on Women with
Disabilities, found that some ILC's are offering a number of services to assist women with disabilities who are
- Most ILC's that responded to the survey thought the most effective approach to addressing abuse of women
with disabilities was a strong collaborative relationship with local abuse intervention programs, such as
domestic violence shelters and sexual assault programs.
- The service that ILC's offered most frequently was referral to local abuse intervention programs. ILC's have
worked with these programs to improve their accessibility to women with disabilities. They have also helped
to provide personal assistants to women who are in shelters or who need respite care due to an abusive care
- Many of the ILC's in the survey are addressing abuse issues through their individual and group counseling
- ILC staff sometimes offer to train staff of abuse intervention programs on the needs of women with
disabilities, and invite abuse program staff to train ILC staff on abuse issues.
Home About CROWD National Study
Health and Wellness Access to Health Care Abuse and Women
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Center for Research on Women with Disabilities
3440 Richmond Avenue, Suite B - Houston, Texas 77046
Phone: 713-960-0505 Toll Free: 800-44-CROWD Fax: 713-961-3555
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Baylor College of Medicine
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Last update: 1/5/1999
Copyright © 1999 Baylor College of Medicine