Accessing Safety Initiative

Connect

Vera’s Accessing Safety Initiative (ASI) helps its partner jurisdictions—states and cities—enhance the capacity of their social services and criminal justice systems to assist women with disabilities & Deaf women who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

ASI partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women in 2006 to provide intensive consulting and training to federally funded initiatives that are working to improve services for these survivors. Its goal is to increase victim agencies’ knowledge, skills, and resources for offering accessible and welcoming services to people with disabilities and, at the same time, help disability organizations offer safe and responsive services to survivors of domestic or sexual violence.

Providing equal access to safety and other services for women with disabilities and Deaf women requires collaboration and cross-learning among local agencies that serve people with disabilities and local agencies that serve victims of domestic and sexual violence. ASI works throughout the country to foster this collaboration and help criminal justice personnel and social service providers increase their knowledge, resources, and capacity to serve survivors with disabilities. Specific activities include hosting national conferences, facilitating peer-led learning, conducting site visits, and providing intensive consultation. To ensure that capacity enhancements it facilitates are sustainable, ASI emphasizes those that focus on the policies, practices, cultures, and attitudes of organizations and that are, ultimately, integrated into the fabrics of those organizations.

Particular Needs of Survivors with Disabilities & Deaf Survivors

A small but persuasive body of research suggests that violence and abuse occur at epidemic rates among women with disabilities. It also suggests that women with specific kinds of disabilities are at a higher risk than others. Individuals with developmental disabilities, for example, are up to 10 times more likely to experience sexual assault than other adults. Moreover, research and anecdotal evidence indicate that Deaf women and women with disabilities—regardless of their disability type—experience significant barriers to accessing and receiving services that provide support and safety for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

For more information, please see the Accessing Safety Initiative’s web site at www.accessingsafety.org.

Forging new collaborations: a guide for rape crisis, domestic violence, and disability organizations
05/17/2011
Between 2006 and 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women funded the development of collaborations between victim services and disability organizations in more than 40 communities to ensure people with disabilities who have experienced domestic or sexual violence have...
04/05/2013
Posted by
  Marie Carchedi, an intern in Vera’s Washington, DC office, and Nancy Smith, director of Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety, contributed to this post.    Despite the alarmingly high rates of violence people with disabilities and Deaf people experience in our country, the issue remains a...
Read more
03/01/2013
Posted by
The House of Representatives this week passed reauthorization of the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The legislation, passed last month by the Senate, has now gone to President Obama for his signature. This latest reauthorization of the 1994 law represents an important step toward...
Read more
12/05/2012
Posted by
Perpetrators of sexual violence often seek opportunities that will allow them to act with impunity. As a recent report issued by California Watch illustrates, gaps within and between systems serving people with disabilities create ample opportunities for doing so. The gaps detailed in this report...
Read more