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Abuse in Canada’s Disability Community

August 18, 2014

What-Causes-Schizoaffective-DisorderIt can seem distasteful to discuss abuse and neglect in Canada’s disability community. Regardless of the discomfort people feel when addressing such an issue, it is necessary we bring up the painful topic.

Statistically speaking, many Canadians with disabilities face physical and emotional abuse every day. To put a stop to this torturous reality, awareness needs to grow throughout Canada and people of all ability levels need to speak up.

Throughout this week, we will publish posts that address different types of abuse, causes of abuse, signs of abuse, and tips on how to prevent abuse.

Before we get to these important topics, it is necessary that we understand the prevalence of abuse in Canada’s disability community so we can equip ourselves with tools to recognize and abolish it.

Here are some important statistics about abuse in Canada’s disability community:

  • “In Canada there are approximately 1,900,000 women aged 15 and over who have disabilities. It is estimated that approximately 40 per cent of these women with disabilities will be assaulted, sexually assaulted or abused throughout their lifetime.” (Newfoundland Labrador Fact Sheet)
  • “A survey conducted by DAWN (Disabled Women’s Network) Canada of approximately 250 women with disabilities found that 40% of the respondents had been raped, abused or assaulted and 53% of women who had been disabled from birth or early childhood had been abused.” (Community Living Ontario)
  • “Adults who have an intellectual disability are 2.9 times more likely to be victims of physical assault and 10.7 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than adults without a disability.” (Community Living Ontario)
  • “It is estimated that only 20% of sexual abuse cases involving disabled people are ever reported to the police, community service agencies, or other authorities.” (DAWN Ontario, Disabled Women’s Network Ontario, 2006)
  • “Boys with disabilities or children with disabilities who are in preschool or younger are more likely than children without disabilities to be abused.” (Algood, 2011; Stalker & McArthur, 2010; Sullivan & Knutson, 2000)

These varying statistics on the abuse of people with disabilities proves that within this demographic, adults, children, males and females are at high risk of abuse. Sadly enough, these statistics only scratch the surface. There are numerous studies on the connection between disability and abuse.

Before reading this post, were you aware that abuse runs rampant throughout the disability community?

With this information in hand, it is important to guide the conversation on abuse so that we do not dwell on its sad reality. Instead, we need to think about ways we can solve this problem.

The first step in doing this is raising awareness of the problem throughout Canada. Once people across the country realize what abuse looks like, why it occurs, and who it affects, we should be able to ban together and, hopefully, create a society that is strong enough to prevent such tragedies.

People with disabilities have strong characters. Unfortunately, because of mental and physical impairments, some corrupt individuals prey on them. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all Canadians to speak up about abuse and neglect towards people with disabilities. With a united voice, we hope to stop this violence once and for all.

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