Speech therapist Anna Knight claims her disability has made it difficult for her to escape from an abusive ex-partner. She claims social services did not carry out a risk assessment
Image: Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)
Disabled victims of domestic violence say they are forgotten by the system.
Just over 1% of shelters are suitable for them, according to the charity Women’s Aid.
And only a third of police forces routinely record whether victims of domestic violence have disabilities.
Activists say this makes it harder to identify the women who need special help.
Speech therapist Anna Knight claims her disability has made it difficult for her to escape from an abusive ex-partner.
She claims social services did not carry out a risk assessment because it did not fit the traditional image of a victim of domestic violence.
Anna, 35, who suffers from three autoimmune diseases that cause joint pain and chronic fatigue, said: “My disability played a role in my condition because it convinced me that I was dependent on it for everything.
“When I tried to leave my biggest fear and something he played into was that I wouldn’t be able to get by without him. Social services didn’t care what I told them about my disability.
“I don’t fit into the image of a domestic violence survivor or a disabled person – who are completely prejudiced.”
Anna, who lives in Kibblesworth, Tyne and Wear, said she only escaped after a risk assessment by the Freedom Program charity.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that approximately 17.5% of disabled women have experienced domestic violence, compared to 6.5% of able-bodied women.
But a freedom of information request from the Sunday People revealed that two-thirds of England’s 39 police forces do not routinely record whether victims are disabled.
Another survivor, whom we’re calling Jessica for her own safety, said she ended up sofa surfing because her local shelter didn’t have adequate facilities for her.
Jessica suffers from endometriosis and hemophilia, which affects her body’s ability to form blood clots. However, she claims her local authority offered her an apartment on the ninth floor of a block, so she had to struggle up the stairs when the elevator broke.
Jessica, who was hit by her ex, said: “My disability was never taken into account.
“That was clear when I was offered an exceptional apartment on the 9th floor with a broken elevator.
“None of my circumstances were taken into account.
“Unless you are a wheelchair user, have to accept the first offer of housing or make yourself homeless voluntarily. At best, I felt worthless. Suicidal at worst.”
Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)
Labor MP Jess Phillips, Shadow Secretary for Domestic Violence and Safeguards, said: “I want government decisions to be guided by services for disabled women and to listen to the voices of victims in the system.
“They don’t talk to women about half the products they put on the market, let alone disabled women.”
Zainab Gulamali, policy and public affairs manager at Women’s Aid, urged police to gather better statistics to understand the scale of the problem.
She said: “There needs to be better data collection by police to understand the full impact and extent of domestic violence for disabled women – who we know are at greater risk of domestic violence and potentially additional ones face barriers to access justice and support.”
Sarah Goff, of the Ann Craft Trust, a charity that helps protect adults with disabilities, said: “Disabled people are mainstream, have every right and often remain invisible because we don’t collect data.
“We must allow their voices to be heard. To do this, we first have to train and sensitize employees.”
And Sally Blyth, from Leeds-based charity Women’s Health Matters, added: “We believe it is a requirement to be able to have conversations with women without their carers being present.
“The caregiver will very likely be reluctant to rock the boat because the force dynamics generated are so powerful.
“Women have told me that their partners have told them straight out that they are only staying for the care allowance, so they control the finances.
“If help is offered, women will still turn it down because of this power dynamic.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/disabled-domestic-abuse-survivors-forgotten-27146465 Disabled survivors of domestic violence, forgotten by the system, say they don't care about social services.