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.