October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence or intimate partner violence affects millions of men and women across all races, ethnicities, cultures, or religious affiliations each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to abuse or aggression that occurs in a close relationship (both current and former spouses and dating partners) and generally includes four types of behavior: Physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression.
Anyone can be affected by domestic violence and other abuse, but recent studies have shown that people with disabilities are more likely to experience abuse than those without disabilities (https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/domestic-violence-disabilities-2/). The National Domestic Violence Hotline explains what domestic violence or IPV is and some of the forms it can take such as physical and emotional abuse, sexual abuse and coercion, reproductive coercion, or financial abuse. It can also include digital abuse, which can include cyberstalking, limiting access to online communities, or monitoring phone or email usage. The Hotline lists some of the most common warning signs but also notes that people with disabilities may experience “non-traditional” signs. For example, an abusive partner may:
- Use disability as an excuse for the abuse; telling their partner that they “deserve” abuse because of their disability and/or using their partner’s disability to shame or humiliate them
- Withhold or threaten to withhold medication(s)
- Not allow them to see a doctor
- Withhold, damage or break assistive devices
- Threaten to harm or harm their service animal
If you, a friend, or loved one is experiencing domestic violence/IPV and in immediate danger please call 911. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 800/799-7233 (800/787-3224 for TTY) or via chat at thehotline.org (in English or Spanish). Other resources for information, resources, and supports may be available through your local 211 Community Resource Specialists (dial 2-1-1) or find your local 211 at http://www.211.org.