NEW YORK – The Vera Institute of Justice today announced the launch of the first website exclusively dedicated to ending abuse against people with disabilities. The website, www.endabusepwd.org, serves as a resource for victim and disability service providers, self-advocates, and policymakers.
Launched as the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25, the website comes at a critical time, as people with disabilities are victimized at alarming rates. In 2013 alone, 1.3 million violent crimes were committed against people with disabilities. They are three times more likely than people without disabilities to experience violent victimization—such as rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault, and robbery—as adolescents and adults. Children with disabilities are also more likely to experience abuse and neglect than children without disabilities.
Developed by Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS) with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, the site offers guidance and resources aimed at raising awareness of these often invisible victims, enhancing services for people with disabilities who have been victimized, fostering accountability for those responsible for these crimes, strengthening prevention efforts, and increasing research on the issue and evaluation of potential solutions.
It features a first-of-its-kind interactive and searchable map of all of the people, programs, and projects across the country working in this area, as well as the best practice materials each project has created. The hope is that people working in the area of abuse and disability will use the map to build relationships and share resources with one another.
“For many people with disabilities, their needs aren’t being met when they reach out for help, or their requests are met with skepticism, dismissed, or outright ignored,” said CVS Director Nancy Smith. “Others may not understand what happened to them or be able to put a name to the pain and abuse they have survived. This website aims to ensure that survivors’ experiences are acknowledged and respected, and their needs are attended to.”
The website is CVS’s latest project to address the needs of people with disabilities and Deaf people. Through its Accessing Safety Initiative, CVS has worked with dozens of jurisdictions to enhance their capacity to assist women with disabilities and Deaf women who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. CVS has also produced a series of practical guides for victim service providers on serving these survivors; held congressional briefings to raise awareness of their justice needs; hosted numerous national conferences for first responders and other practitioners in disability, Deaf, and victim services organizations; and trained American Sign Language interpreters to interpret accurately and effectively in cases of domestic and sexual violence. CVS has also developed anational blueprint to end sexual abuse of children with disabilities and is currently conducting exploratory research to understand the experiences and needs of men with disabilities who have been victimized.