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Michigan Study on Women with Physical Disabilities, Final Report

NCJ Number
193769
Author(s)
Sharon Milberger Sc.D.; Barbara LeRoy Ph.D.; Angela Martin MSW; Nathaniel Israel M.A.; Linda Potter J.D.; Pam Patchak-Schuster ACSW
Date Published
February 2002
Length
31 pages
Annotation
This study investigated the prevalence, correlates, and service system capacity related to domestic abuse among women with physical disabilities in Michigan.
Abstract
Studies have shown that people with development disabilities have a 4 to 10 times higher risk of becoming crime victims than persons without disabilities. A woman with a disability, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, is twice as likely to be a victim of abuse than a woman without a disability. The causes include the disability itself, cognitive impairment, communication impairment, and the likelihood that a woman with a disability would not speak out against an abusive situation. Many women with disabilities are dependent on caregivers, which can create stress on caregivers, and a barrier to terminating the abusive situation because to do so would leave the woman without essential support services. These women are also at a higher risk for domestic abuse because they are among the most isolated people in society due to their dependence on others. The population for this study was 177 women over the age of 18 who have physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, postpolio, spina bifida, amputation, rheumatic conditions, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and stroke. They were asked to complete a questionnaire addressing demographic characteristics and their experience with domestic violence. Results showed that the prevalence of domestic abuse in this sample was 56 percent. This finding was consistent with the body of findings showing that a woman with a disability, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, was more likely to be a victim of abuse than a woman without a disability. There was a positive relationship between abuse histories and being unemployed, divorced, having more than one disability, and having a hearing impairment. Most of the women had multiple abuse situations that were chronic in nature and involved male partners. These women need to be made aware of the resources available to them. 2 tables, references, attachments

Date Published: February 1, 2002