Women with disabilities who experience violence

We had such an incredible (honestly…gush worthy) time at Lifeline’s DV-Alert training for women with disabilities who are victims of domestic violence. This session was funded by the DSS and hosted by the infallible Sue Salthouse. Sue is a long-time advocate for women with disability and Director of Didactic Enterprises. She sat on the Prime Minister’s Advisory Panel to reduce violence against women in 2015, and is co-chair of the ACT Disability Expert Panel advising on NDIS.

She has also done a lot more. In all seriousness she has done so much for this cause: check her bio @ http://www.library.act.gov.au/find/history/frequentlyaskedquestions/personal_stories/canberra-citizen-of-the-year-1967/sue-salthouse

You can find all the information you need about these training sessions at: http://www.dvalert.org.au/

Sue Salthouse; photo edited for accuracy

Beautiful beings from various organisations attended, here’s an artistic flat lay (styled by Connor Barrett) of some of their biz cards:

The course was framed specifically around women with disabilities suffering from domestic violence, which naturally overlaps with domestic violence against women without disabilities. However, women with a disability are a minority within a minority. They are at the mercy of society’s discrimination against both their gender and disability, an environment that is conducive to increased vulnerability. Sue informed us that women with disability are 40% more likely to suffer from domestic violence than women who are not disabled. Let’s repeat: 40% more likely, (keeping in mind not all victims disclose). Sickening.

Before we began addressing DV in depth, we were asked to discuss myths that surrounded women with disability. The lovely Heejin, seated at our table, poignantly pointed out that one of the biggest myths around is that; ‘disability equals impossibility’. It’s undeniable that undervalue of skills and over emphasis on disability is major obstacle to people with disability in mainstream society.

The training session was split into sections; RECOGNISE, RESPOND and REFER.

RECOGNISE covered warning signs of domestic violence against women and indications of; control, manipulation, humiliation, physical, sexual and emotional/financial abuse.

Thrown into horrific circumstances and having to make a lot of overwhelming decisions, disclosure is difficult enough for any victim. However, there are additional forms of violence and control that women without disability would not, like denial of essential care. Different scenarios arose, like what if the person meant to support them is the abuser? We learned that obstacles like this are why awareness of non-verbal signs, such as increases in aggression, self-harm or aversion to touch, are important to look out for as they may be indicators of abuse. RESPOND covered appropriate care. Here we discussed approaches, what makes a safe environment for disclosure and the need for service providers to receive training in this area. This led into appropriate referral services. REFER covered this. Here we discussed the gorgeous organisations that offer crisis and support services for people experiencing or at risk of domestic and family violence. Women with physical disabilities may require specialised support services such as wheelchair accessible emergency transport, and carers arranged at short notice. It feels appropriate to go straight to plugging these amazing organisations:

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre

Site: https://www.crcc.org.au

CRCC offers crisis support services for any woman, man or child who has experienced any form of sexual abuse, recent or otherwise.

Domestic Violence Crisis Centre

Site: https://dvcs.org.au/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DVCSACT

Twitter: @DVCSACT

Instagram: @DVCSACT


Site: https://www.1800respect.org.au/

Offers counselling and support service for victims of domestic abuse, including safety planning.





Here is a link for the full list of available support services:


This amazing organisation offers crisis services and educational resources. DVS offers specialised emergency services for women with disability.

Lastly, Sue asked us what changes we would like to see in domestic violence policy. One idea came up repeatedly: integrating DV-Alert education into school curriculum’s, policies. Obviously, this is a fantastic idea, and it should BE. These types of workshops would not only help people recognise the signs of controlling behaviour or abuse, but also introduce them to support networks. They would also, ever-importantly, actively re-establish the rhetoric that domestic violence is not ok. This is a truth that, sadly, still needs hammering home. Awareness is a key player in ending this preventable social problem.

This training course was so enlightening and exciting to be a part of. We will now be integrating accessible resources, and workshops about domestic violence against women and women with disability into our services, for any families or individuals to partake in. We are so excited to take an active stance in this and can’t wait in incorporate further tools, training and skills in this area. Stay tuned for further information!

This course is offered free to health, allied health and community frontline workers and we can’t

recommend it enough.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play

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