Disability Wales, Welsh Women’s Aid and the University of Glamorgan worked together on a research project looking at the experiences of disabled women affected by domestic abuse in Wales.
Disability Wales in partnership with Welsh Women’s Aid and the University of Glamorgan identified the need and opportunity to collaborate and undertake this most needed research, which was funded by the Welsh Government through its New Ideas Social Fund. The aim of the research project was to address an almost total knowledge gap relating to a cohort of Welsh society who are likely to experience multiple discrimination and social exclusion: disabled women who have experienced, or are experiencing, domestic abuse (DA) in Wales. The project was underpinned by the Social Model of Disability, which recognises that people are disabled more by poor design, inaccessible services and other people’s attitudes than by their impairment.
Disabled women can fall through the gaps of service provision, because mainstream domestic abuse services may not have the resources to deal with the specificities of abuse experienced by disabled women, while few organisations of and for disabled people consider dealing with domestic abuse to be part of their remit. National and local policies and practices lack appropriate measures to ensure disabled women receive the appropriate level of support at the right time.
Evidence suggests that disabled women are perceived to be less capable and an easy target and are therefore likely to be more vulnerable to DA, which kills two women every week in England and Wales, and affects one in four women at some point during their lifetime.
A key objective of the Domestic Abuse of Disabled Women (DADW) research project was to collect previously unheard voices of disabled women who have experienced domestic abuse and bridge the data gap on domestic abuse of disabled women in Wales.
Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales states:
As with disability related harassment, many may be shocked to discover that disabled women are subject to domestic abuse. However we have met with women with different impairments who have encountered various forms of abuse whether physical, psychological, sexual or financial. As this is only a small study, no doubt the women we met represent a tiny minority of those affected.
What emerges is that many services that provide support to women who report domestic abuse are not always responding appropriately to women with a physical or sensory impairment, learning difficulty or mental health condition. This may vary from access to a refuge, personal assistance, communication support or information provided in appropriate formats.
Similarly, many services that provide support to disabled women are not always identifying domestic abuse victims and therefore not able to signpost to appropriate domestic abuse services.
This research would not have been possible without the contribution from the disabled women involved, the many statutory and voluntary organisations that provide Domestic Abuse support in Wales with whom the study consulted extensively.
We also acknowledge the friends, family and support workers of disabled women that sent in Proxy Case Studies.
Very special thanks to all the disabled women who willingly agreed to share their experiences.
The Executive Summary and full report can be downloaded from resources on the right handside of this page.