New Guides Help Organizations Serve Survivors with Disabilities

New York, NY – The Vera Institute of Justice has published five first-in-kind guides to help a range of victim service and disability organizations track their progress towards addressing violence against people with disabilities.

Research shows that people with disabilities experience violent victimization at rates three times higher than people without them, yet face persistent and significant barriers to accessing services when reaching out for help. To address this critical and neglected issue, a small but growing group of victim service and disability providers have been working to improve their response to survivors with disabilities. This series, titled Measuring Capacity to Serve Survivors with Disabilities, guides these organizations on how to addresses barriers in a cost-effective way that uses data and resources that they already have access to.

The guides were developed by Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS) with support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, in response to the need for communities that are working tirelessly to improve services for survivors with disabilities to be able to easily asses their current capacity; receive ongoing information that helps them better decide how to allocate often limited resources and track progress toward a goal; and to document their successes for themselves and their funders. Most importantly, the guides ultimately help survivors with disabilities attain equal access to vital services to address the domestic and sexual violence in their lives.

“When people with disabilities reach out for help, we must be prepared to meet them not with the status quo, but with welcoming and accessible services,” said CVS Director Nancy Smith. “For too long, agencies that provide critical services have not had the tools in hand to make progress toward this goal. These guides fill a longstanding gap in our efforts to better our responses to people with disabilities who are harmed by violence and hold the promise of making a real difference in their lives.” 

Comprehensive yet practical, the guides are available on Vera’s main website, as well as on a newly-launched website exclusively dedicated to ending abuse of people with disabilities, The guides are customized to be used across five types of agencies: 

  • Disability organizations
  • Rape crisis centers
  • Dual domestic violence/sexual assault organizations
  • Residential domestic violence organizations
  • Non-residential domestic violence organizations

Using the evaluation tool contained in the guides does not require experience with statistics or evaluation; they provide step-by-step information on implementation, including how to collect, analyze, and interpret data.

This project builds off of CVS’s Accessing Safety Initiative, which has worked closely with more than 70 communities nationwide over more than 10 years to build their capacity to offer welcoming and accessible services to people with disabilities and Deaf people who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.