This morning, Welsh Women’s Aid and Disability Wales have launched their joint report, “Supporting disabled people experiencing violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence in Wales.” The third sector organisations launched the report at the Joint Cross Party Group on Disability and Cross Party Group on Violence against Women and Children at the Ty Hywel Building in Cardiff Bay.
We know that disabled people experience disproportionately higher rates of abuse than non-disabled people and the violence experienced is also gendered, with disabled women more likely to experience violence and abuse, over longer periods of time.
The report shows the findings from three surveys which were issued to specialist services and survivors of abuse. Welsh Women’s Aid and Disability Wales circulated two surveys; one for violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence specialist services and one for survivors, which was also provided in an easy read format.
The report shows that:
- Of those who responded 382 disabled survivors were referred to specialist services for support during 2017/18
- The majority of disabled survivors disclosed they had experienced violence in the context of domestic abuse, with most reporting that the perpetrator was a male (ex) partner. The report also shows that many disclosed multiple perpetrators, involving not only partners but also family members.
An emerging theme from the feedback provided by disabled survivors was a dissatisfaction with the police response when they reported abuse, which is notable as this feedback also emerged in 2011 report. This time, nearly half (47%) disabled survivors who took part in the survey reported their concern that nothing happened to the perpetrator of abuse, after their disclosure.
The recommendations from this report, which was informed by survivors and specialist services include:
- Agencies working to identify disabled survivors and their experiences of abuse as early as possible, ensuring staff are trained to understand and know how to mitigate and reduce the specific barriers to disclosure for disabled people.
- Agencies needing to recognise and understand the specific forms which violence against disabled women may take.
- Accessible information on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence to be available in a range of formats.
- Publicity campaigns aimed at tackling domestic abuse to include disabled people and diversity across different forms of impairments in different communities, recognising that disabled people aren’t a homogenous group.
The recommendations for statutory services (health, social care, housing, education justice system etc.):
- The Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct a review into police conduct when responding to disabled survivors of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
- For all police forces to be trained in coercive control and violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence including in relation to disabled women.
- All statutory services have knowledge of disability services and signpost to specialist VAWDASV services that can support disabled survivors.
Tina Reece, Head of Engagement for Welsh Women’s Aid said:
“Due to issues of funding and resource survivors reported barriers to accessing support from services, waiting lists for specialist support, lack of access to appropriate resources which are designed and accessible for disabled people, and also a lack of support through the medium of Welsh. We need to ensure we are providing the best and most appropriate support for everyone in Wales who needs it”.
Miranda Evans, Policy and Programmes Manager for Disability Wales said:
“Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse compared to non-disabled women. We need a concerted multi-agency approach to tackling violence and abuse experienced by disabled women across wales.
Disabled women need to feel confident in reporting abuse as and when it happens. Policy and service delivery must recognise the requirements of disabled women. Positive action is needed to address the barriers faced by disabled women experiencing domestic abuse. Disabled women matter too!”