Domestic violence against women with disabilities
The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria had a meeting last week. The meeting was about violence against women with disabilities. This violence can be physical or emotional. A number of women spoke at the meeting. Young Australian of the Year Anj Barker spoke about her achievements. Anj has a severe brain injury caused by physical violence by a partner. Another woman spoke about the risk of violence when women are in support care. Some women with disabilities may be at risk of being abused by someone who should be there to help. The Victorian government understands it is important to help women experiencing violence.
Posted by: Susan Frankel, on 29/06/12
Abuse can be physical or emotional.
Doing something about domestic violence against women with disabilities is now very much a priority in Victoria. Last week in Melbourne the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) gathered some of its most outspoken and powerful voices at its Sowing the Seeds of Change forum.
Participants were from a range of services across Victoria. Some speakers were women active in seeking to better protect women with disabilities, while others included those who help influence the law.
We have to be vigilant all the time. Family violence legislation is there to be used and we have to stop sending people with disabilities back to their perpetrators, said Tricia Malowney from Women with Disabilities Victoria in her speech on rights for women with disabilities.
Women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to physical, sexual and psychological violence due to their social and cultural disadvantage, and increased dependence. Poverty, low education and low employment perpetuate power imbalances that enable domestic violence to thrive.
Forms of abuse unique to people with disabilities include the removal of an accessibility device, withholding medication and threatening institutionalisation. Adults with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities are particularly at risk of sexual assault and exploitation.
Young Australian of the Year 2011 Anj Barker spoke about her achievements. Anj's violent, physical abuse by a partner left her with a severe brain injury.
Sometimes an abuser is also the main carer. Vulnerable individuals may often suffer neglect and isolation. Sometimes it may be impossible for them to get help.
Urania Michaelides talked about experiences of abuse in care. Urania, who uses a wheelchair, is a powerful voice.
Carers are a serious issue. The system of reporting is a bloody mess. There needs to be an independent complaints mechanism to safeguard safety, Urania said.
Jody Saxton-Barney, Deaf indigenous community consultant, was instructive in her address.
Aboriginal fear is part of our DNA as the stolen generation. Agencies don't have cultural knowledge. Time is different for us and Aboriginal talk is very visual and so is facial expression, she said in highlighting barriers for better communication.
In the 2011 to 2012 budget the state government invested over $75 million in a range of services and programs that specifically tackled family violence and sexual assault. It also committed to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and those at highest risk including women with disabilities. Male intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness for women aged 15 to 44 years
Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
Phone: 9486 9744
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