Family Secrets

How families are changing and not changing in our multicultural computer-centric world

Women With Disabilities

The difficulties they face as victims of domestic violence

In the United States, violence against women is a national epidemic, and still a well-kept secret. The Centers for Disease Control reports that each year, violence from an intimate partner results in 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries in women. Nearly one in four women reports experiencing violence from a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some time in her life.  

Young foreign-born women are more vulnerable to being victimized because they do not have enough family support, live in isolation, do not know that the law can protect them, and are often afraid of deportation. Many women have never heard of a domestic violence protection order, and most are unaware of local domestic violence agencies. Unfortunately, there are not enough services, and shelters do not have enough room to serve all of the victims.

When this drama affects women with disabilities, the situation is even more difficult, as many battered women have been exposed to a greater number of perpetrators and for longer periods of time.The incident rate is about double that of other women. In addition, their abilities to protect themselves are diminished and they may not even have the possibility to ask for help.

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If resources to help victims of domestic violence are not enough, then access to those resources is even more difficult to attain for women with disabilities. It is very difficult to find shelter for a blind or deaf woman, as well as for those who may experience physical challenges or mental conditions. Sadly, many of these women are being victimized by their own family members. It is time that this secret is exposed.

Ana Nogales is a clinical psychologist and well-known media personality, columnist, speaker, and advocate for victims of domestic violence.

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