Prevalence of abuse of women with physical disabilities

  • M.E. Y
  • M.A. N
  • C. H
 et al. 
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The prevalence of abuse in women with physical disabilities was investigated in a case-control study of 860 US women who responded to a national sexuality survey conducted by the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities. The 439 respondents with physical disabilities were asked to recruit a non-disabled friend to the study. The most common disabilities among cases were spinal cord injury (23.9%), polio (19.8%), muscular dystrophy (11.8%), and cerebral palsy (10.7%); 68.9% used a wheelchair. 62.0% of disabled women and 62.2% of non-disabled controls reported they had experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse at some point in their lives. These rates were 51.7% vs. 47.5% for emotional abuse, 35.5% vs. 35.6% for physical abuse, and 39.9% vs. 37.1% for sexual abuse. 13% of disabled women reported physical or sexual abuse in the year preceding the survey. Husbands or live-in partners were the most frequently cited perpetrators of emotional or physical abuse in both groups, and male strangers were most often cited in sexual abuse. Women with disabilities were significantly more likely than non-disabled women to report emotional abuse by their attendants (4.1% vs. 0%), male strangers (3.9% vs. 1.7%), or health care providers (4.6% vs. 1.2%). There was a trend for more disabled women to experience emotional abuse by mothers (20.5% vs. 15.4%) and brothers (6.2% vs. 3.6%) as well. Women with physical disabilities were also more likely to report physical abuse (1.6% vs. 0%) or sexual abuse (2.3% vs. 0.5%) by attendants and sexual abuse by health care providers (4.8% vs. 2.4%). Finally, disabled women experienced all three forms of abuse for significantly longer periods of time than their non-disabled counterparts (7.4 vs. 5.6 years). These findings indicate that physical, sexual, and emotional abuse occur as often in disabled women as in non-disabled women and suggest that disability itself may be a risk factor for abuse. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

Author-supplied keywords

  • COMPARATIVE studies
  • DEVELOPED countries
  • FAMILY violence
  • NORTH America
  • PEOPLE with disabilities
  • RESEARCH -- Methodology
  • SEX crimes
  • SOCIAL problems
  • UNITED States
  • americas
  • population characteristics
  • prevalence

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  • Young M.E.

  • Nosek M.A.

  • Howland C.

  • Chanpong G.

  • Rintala D.H.

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