Women with disability almost twice as likely to experience partner violence

Women with disability almost twice as likely to experience partner violence


A study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that women living with disability are almost twice as likely to experience partner violence. 

Fewer than one in three women with a disability who experience an incident of physical assault by a man reported it to police. Three quarters of women with disability experienced anxiety or fear following their most recent incident of physical assault. 

Analysis of the 2016 Personal Safety Survey data found correlating evidence that women living with disability are likelier to experience physical violence, sexual harassment and stalking over a year-long period.

Will Milne, the director of the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics at ABS, said the greatest disparity in risk was found for partner violence.

“Women with an intellectual or psychological disability were nearly three times more likely than women with a physical disability to experience violence,” Milne said. “For men the figure was over double.” 

The 2016 data also showed that intellectual disability raised the risk of violence for both men and women and that almost six percent of women and 5.6 percent of men living with a long-term health condition experienced violence. 

The latest study comes after a report was commissioned by the Disability Royal Commission which was released in March this year. That commission also looked at data from the Personal Safety Survey, finding evidence that women with a disability were more than twice as likely to report sexual violence in the past 12 months compared with women without disability. 

Georgina Sutherland, one of the report’s authors, believes that these issues of violence within the disability sector were not well captured by the data. According to Sutherland, women can be exposed to violence specific to their experience of disability.

“It could be about breaking assistive devices or withholding medication, reproductive coercion, we know those things are happening,” she told AAP.

“It’s most useful to think about the drivers of violence against women, and also the drivers of violence against people with disability … it’s inequality, it’s discrimination, social and economic exclusion, ableism, devaluation of people with a disability.”

Last June, Sutherland described the “woefully inadequate” information we have “about the extent and nature of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability is for building a national evidence-based response.”

“No single survey can adequately capture the diverse types of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, as well as the settings and contexts in which that violence occurs,” she explained.

“Maximising the data that currently exists, but is under-utilised, is a useful starting point in order to prevent any more tragic, preventable deaths of people with disability in Australia.”

If you or someone you know if in immediate danger, call 000. If you need help and advice call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or Lifeline on 13 11 14

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