Securing Equal JusticeReaching All Victims

People with Disabilities and Deaf People

People with disabilities are much more vulnerable to harm. They’re three times more likely to be sexually abused as children,1 and three times more likely to be victims of serious violent crimes ranging from robbery to rape as adolescents and adults.2 As troubling, survivors rarely get the help they need to heal. Organizations dedicated to serving people with disabilities and Deaf people often have no experience working with victims of crime, while agencies focused on crime and victimization are typically ill-equipped to serve people with differing abilities.

Our work focuses on connecting professionals, breaking down systemic barriers to collaboration, and rigorously tracking performance—the only way to provide services that actually meet peoples’ needs. Much of our work is focused on survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Sullivan, P.M., & Knuston, J.F. (2000). Maltreatment and disabilities: A population-based epidemiological study. Child Abuse & Neglect, 24, 1257-1273. 

Harrell, E. (2015). Crimes against persons with disabilities, 2009–2013 – statistical tables. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. NCJ 248676.

Related Work

PREA information and victim services should be accessible to incarcerated people with disabilities

Too often, educating incarcerated people with disabilities about their rights, access to services, and agency policies is limited to reading aloud to people who are blind or low-vision and giving print materials to Deaf people. These makeshift accommodations, while understandable in a busy correctional facility that places high demands on staff, pr...

Blog Post
  • Allison Hastings
    Allison Hastings
  • Sandra  Harrell
    Sandra Harrell
November 23, 2015
Blog Post

Measuring Capacity to Serve Survivors with Disabilities

Performance Indicators

Using performance indicators, this one-of-a-kind resource relies on Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety’s 10 years of experience at the intersection of violence and disability to help practitioners—from disability organizations, domestic violence programs, rape crisis centers, and dual agencies—measure their organizations’ capacity to serve s...

  • Nancy Smith, Sandra Harrell, Jaclyn Smith, Ashley Demyan
November 12, 2015

Making PREA and Victim Services Accessible for Incarcerated People with Disabilities

An Implementation Guide for Practitioners on the Adult and Juvenile Standards

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) established a federal commission to draft national standards that address sexual abuse in confinement settings. PREA also required the U.S. Attorney General to promulgate regulations based on the standards that apply to all federal, state, and local confinement settings, including juvenile detention, l...

  • Sandra Harrell, Allison Hastings, Margaret diZerega
October 05, 2015