Vera Institute Aims to End Violence Against People With Disabilities

The Vera Institute for Justice has announced the launch of a national initiative aimed at ending violence against people with disabilities.

With support from the NoVo Foundation, Vera's Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS) will work to transform ad hoc efforts into a cohesive, strategic, and unified movement aimed at ending violence against people with disabilities and creating strategies that increase awareness of their plight. To that end, CVS will convene a national coalition of experts, organizational leaders, and advocates working at the intersection of anti-violence and disabilities to develop a shared vision, goals, and strategy for leveraging existing but disparate efforts to serve survivors with disabilities. Subsequent phases of the project will focus on expanding the working group into a full-fledged coalition that works to address immediate priorities and engage allies, such as those in the disability rights and anti-violence movements, in supporting its long-term goals.

According to a federal crime victimization survey, people with disabilities experience violent victimization at rates three times higher than people without disabilities. For people with certain disabilities, rates of victimization are even higher — one study found that 83 percent of women and 32 percent of men with cognitive disabilities reported being victims of sexual assault. At the same time, survivors with disabilities are less likely to receive help due to a number of factors, including communicative, physical, programmatic, and attitudinal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from receiving support from victim service organizations and the justice system.

"Survivors with disabilities have lived too long in the shadows, without recognition of their pain, or welcoming and compassionate responses to help them heal," said CVS director Nancy Smith. "We are thrilled to have the NoVo Foundation's support in this effort to unite the people doing the vital work to serve survivors with disabilities, and ultimately, to address the root causes of violence that affect far too many children and adults with disabilities."