Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. Overwhelmingly domestic abuse is experienced by women and perpetrated by men, but it doesn’t matter what race or religion you are, what class you are, what age you are, whether you are disabled, or whether or not you have children.
Domestic abuse is so much more than only hitting and physical violence; it can be emotional, sexual and financial too. It’s a pattern of behaviour – not a one off argument – that leaves you feeling scared, intimidated or controlled. Nobody deserves to be treated this way.
If your partner is abusive it is not your fault, and there is nothing you could do differently that would make them change their behaviour. Often abusers will tell you it is your fault that they are acting that way, or that they only behave like that because they love you. Love is never an excuse to treat someone badly, or to be abusive.
Because domestic abuse is about power, abusers can use lots of different ways to get control. Disabled women have many of the same experiences as non-disabled women, but there might be some differences based on how the abuser sees their victim as being vulnerable.
Disabled women's experience of abuse can include...
• Not letting you have important care, medication or food;
• Taking away, hiding or damaging equipment such as sensory or mobility aids to limit your independence;
• Putting up obstacles and hazards so that you are afraid or unable to move around;
• Claiming your disability benefits but not letting you have the money or letting you spend it in the way you would like;
• Being nasty about your disability or using symptoms to try and humiliate you;
• Threatening to tell social services that you are not fit to live alone or that you aren’t capable of looking after your children;
• Touching you sexually without your permission when they are supposed to be helping you, or being very rough with you;
• Giving you too much medication or using physical restraints against you;
• Telling you that you are hard work, and that no-one else would want to care for you;
• Not giving you any privacy or space to be by yourself.
All abuse is serious. For some disabled women it is more difficult to ask for support because there are additional barriers to accessing services and support. At Women’s Aid we believe you, and Women’s Aid services will work with you to make sure that you have access to further support if required.
Who do I ask for help?
Women’s Aid groups work with many disabled women. They can help you by giving you emotional and practical support, including counselling. Find your local Women’s Aid here, call Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234, or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there is an adult or tutor that you trust at your school, college or university you can ask them for help. Even if they don’t know what to do, they should help you access the support you need. Every school, college and university has someone that is in charge of the welfare of their students. As much as possible, adults should respect your wish to keep what you have said private if that is what you want. If they think you are in immediate danger or at risk of serious harm they might have to tell other people, like the police.
If you think you are in immediate danger then you can call the police on 999 or, to report a non-urgent crime call 101.
You can speak to your doctor or nurse about abuse confidentially, and ask for medical assistance if you need it.
If you feel scared of your partner or if you are worried about someone you know, get in touch with Scotland’s 24 hour Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234, email email@example.com,uk, or visit sdafmh.org.uk.