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Michigan Study on Women With Physical Disabilities, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
9 pages
Publication Series
This study examined the prevalence of and factors in domestic violence among a sample (n=177) of Michigan women with physical disabilities; the capacity of existing support programs to assist such women was also examined.
The study population consisted of women over the age of 18 who had disabilities that resulted in functional impairment. The study sample was selected from women served by organizations that help individuals with disabilities and from responses to a radio solicitation for study participants. Participants completed a questionnaire that sought information on demographic characteristics and experience with domestic violence. A total of 100 (56 percent) of the women reported a history of abuse. This subsample of 100 women participated in a more extensive interview that focused on demographic characteristics, social networks, abuse history, and characteristics of the abuser. In order to determine the capacity of support services, a telephone survey was conducted with all of the Michigan sexual assault and domestic violence programs (n=55). Most of the 100 women (89 percent) reported that their abuse occurred in the past, with 87 percent reporting physical abuse, 66 percent reporting sexual abuse, 35 percent reporting refusal to help with a personal need, and 19 percent reporting they were prevented from using a device for assistance. Most of the women (74 percent) reported chronic abuse. Over half of the women spontaneously reported that their abusers were using drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the abuse. Only 33 percent indicated they had sought help for their abuse. The survey of the service organizations found that most of the shelters were accessible to individuals in wheelchairs or could refer women to a more accessible location; more than half had interpreters available. Generally, they could accommodate any woman who could care for herself. Those women for whom abuse was in the past were ultimately able to resolve their abusive situation. Those women undergoing current abuse were referred to appropriate service organizations. These findings indicate a need to disseminate assistance information to women with disabilities.

Date Published: January 1, 2002