Domestic & Sexual Violence
Domestic & sexual violence affects individuals in all communities. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control indicate people with disabilities may be twice as likely to experience sexual or domestic violence as non-disabled adults. Because sexual and domestic violence are about the abuse of power, people with disabilities are especially vulnerable. The frequency and severity can vary dramatically, but the constant issue is one person’s efforts to exert power and control over another. Some people may experience increased levels or types of violence due to their physical, emotional, or sensory disabilities. Injuries can be physical or psychological, or both, and the effects of domestic and sexual violence can last a lifetime.
Sexual and domestic violence, when carried out against people with disabilities, has many of the same results as assaults on non-disabled adults. While there are numerous ways abusers exert power over a person, including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, other forms might include:
- Withholding or denying care for basic needs
- Limiting access to medical equipment or mobility aids necessary for quality of life
- Controlling a person’s finances
- Limiting access to needed medications
- Limiting access to needed services (including access to an advocate, case manager, or social worker)
- Controlling access to friends and family members who provide support
- Reducing access to the telephone or other communication devices
- Engaging in inappropriate touching
- Engaging in non-consensual sexual activity
If you have been victimized, remember you are not alone, and it’s not your fault.
All people, including those living with disabilities, have the right to live free from sexual and domestic violence. Survivors of sexual and domestic violence may experience a range of responses to abuse. It is common to feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, confused, afraid, depressed, alone, and unsure of what to do. You may wonder whether sexual and domestic violence programs will be safe and supportive places, whether services will be accessible, and whether or not people will believe what has happened.
Making sure you are safe, learning more about your rights, and about what community services and resources that are available to you, you may begin to feel more hopeful. BCIL assists people with disabilities to navigate the services and resources that will help support your goals. Contact BCIL at (617)338-6665. You also can contact the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) hotline at (800)841-8371; they work in partnership with BCIL and can provide information on community resources available for both domestic and sexual violence victims and survivors. For domestic violence, you can also contact Safelink at (877)785-2020 for assistance in safety planning, community resources, and assistance connecting to domestic violence shelters in Massachusetts. You can also contact the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) to report abuse at (617-727-6465 / 1-800-426-9009). To report abuse or neglect of children 18 or under contact the Department of Children and Families at 1-800-792-5200. To report abuse or neglect of a person over 60, contact the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275. To reach the DPPC Sexual Assault Response Unit call 617-727-6465. Additionally, there are resources available for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault at Futures Without Violence .
If you or someone else is at immediate risk of domestic and sexual violence, call 911.