SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- People with a disability, especially women and girls, are twice as likely as other women and girls to experience violence.
- In an emergency, call triple zero (000)
- If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, abuse or neglect there is help available. As a starting point, call the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline on 1800 880 052. They can help you find the best way to deal with an issue and will usually refer you to an appropriate service.
People with disabilities are among some of the most vulnerable people in our society due to their dependence on others for care and support or because of social isolation, their place of residence or the nature of their disability.
While anyone can experience violence, abuse or neglect, people with disabilities are at greater risk. And of all people with a disability, women and girls with disabilities are at even greater risk.
As a person with a disability, you have the rights to freedom, respect, equality and dignity. You have the right to live to your full potential, to have control over your own life and to live free from abuse or neglect. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, abuse or neglect at the hands of an individual or an organisation, it is important to seek help.
Recognising violence, abuse and neglect
Violent behaviour by a person towards another can include abusive behaviour that is physical, sexual, intimidating and forceful. People with a disability are more likely to experience violence from a carer or family member. The Victorian Family Violence Protection Act 2008 defines family violence as:
(a) behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour is:
- physically or sexually abusive
- emotionally or psychologically abusive
- in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person.
(b) Behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of, behaviour referred to above.
The most commonly reported forms of violence experienced by women with a disability are psychological, physical, sexual abuse, controlling behaviour and economic abuse.
Abuse is when the actions of someone violates your human rights. Abuse can be physical, mental, psychological, sexual or even financial.
Neglect is the failure by a service provider or a person caring for you to provide adequate care to you. Types of neglect include:
- Physical neglect - failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing and protection. Supervision medical or dental care that places you at undue risk through unsafe environments or practices
- Passive neglect - withholding or failure to provide the necessities of life
- Wilful deprivation - wilfully denying you assistance and thereby exposing you to the risk of physical, mental or emotional harm
- Emotional neglect - restricting your social, intellectual and emotional growth or wellbeing
Violence involves physical force being used to hurt, damage or kill someone.
All of these actions are in conflict with your basic human rights. None are acceptable. If you or anyone you know is experiencing violence, abuse or neglect there is help available.
Women with disabilities and violence, abuse and neglect
Women with disabilities are more often victims of violence and are less likely to know how to get help than women without disabilities. In fact, violence against women and girls with disabilities is twice as likely to occur when compared to women and girls without disabilities.
Where to go for help
There are services that can help if you are experiencing (or have experienced) violence, abuse or neglect.
provides a 24 hour family violence response to women and children through a range of support services including safe house and refuge accommodation, outreach services, information and advocacy. Call Safe Steps on 24 hours 7 days per week.
Sexual Assault Crisis Line
The (SACL) is a state-wide, after-hours, confidential, telephone crisis counselling service for victims and survivors of both past and recent sexual assault. This service can provide support, legal and medical advice as well as advocacy with service providers and other medical professionals. Call the Sexual Assault Crisis line on .
Victorian Centres against Sexual Assault (CASA)
is the peak body of the 15 Centres Against Sexual Assault and the Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line. The website has a wide range of resources and information about sexual assault translated into languages other than English. It also has information about support groups.
The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline
The is a telephone service for reporting cases of neglect and abuse of people with a disability. The hotline works with callers to find the best ways of dealing with the issues they report and will usually refer you to an appropriate service. Call the hotline on .
The Orange Door
is a free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children. Each location provides access to women’s and children’s family violence services, child and family services, Aboriginal services, and services for men who use violence. A referral is not needed to access services in person or over the phone.
Victoria Legal Aid
Disability and Family Violence Crisis Response
The initiative can provide immediate support to for women and children to enable them to access crisis accommodation or provide the supports required to enable them to remain safe in their own home. Short-term funds can be provided while the woman works with a family violence case manager to develop a longer term plan.