Sisters Uncut

Taking direct action for domestic violence services.

Austerity puts disabled women at greater risk of domestic violence

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Guest blog by Sisters of Frida

Disabled women are 2-3 times more likely to experience domestic violence, but have greater barriers to accessing services. Often they are not believed, or their experiences as disabled women are not understood. Perpetrators exploit disabled women by financially abusing them, isolating them from friends and family, withholding vital care or medication, and using their impairments to apply the form of abuse

Austerity has robbed disabled women of independent living in a number of ways. These include: the closure of the independent living fund, the introduction of ESA and the inappropriate work capability assessment, the change to PIP and Motability (for adapted vehicles) as there is an arbitrary change to mobility eligibility.

This is a systematic erosion of disabled people’s rights. An erosion so grave the UN is investigating.

Women are told they have to use nappies despite not being incontinent. Never mind the indignity. Never mind the health risk from sores, a risk that is not needed. Children are removed from disabled mothers as social services deem them not to be capable of parenthood. Disabled women wait in fear of the arbitrary sanctions from job centre and DWP letters informing them they no longer meet criteria for benefits.

This all feeds into vulnerability, isolation and dependency on possibly abusive partners.

The decimation of disabled people’s rights and independence, through the systematic removal of social security has had one particularly significant effect: disabled women are left at greater risk of domestic violence

When it comes to state support for disabled women, social security is no “benefit”. In a world which denies disabled people access to education, employment, family life and public spaces, this money is a small recognition of the barriers faced.

Disabled women experience a compound oppression. As at the same time their risk of violence increases, funding to domestic violence aid services is falling. This is despite an evidence need for MORE funding to ensure they are accessible and responsive to all disabled women. We need more specialist services and accessible helplines and information.

Without this support and funding, disabled women lose their independent living, their social circles, civil rights, choice and control. Isolation, dependence and vulnerability are exacerbated by austerity. Austerity sets up the conditions where disabled women are more than 2-3 times likely to experience domestic violence.