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Women with Disabilities

Screening and Counseling for Violence

Violence and abuse affect women from all kinds of backgrounds every day. Most often women are hurt by people who are close to them. Violence and abuse can cause terrible physical and emotional pain. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office on Women’s Health provides a wealth of resources to help women, including women with disabilities, subjected to acts of violence.

Research suggests that women with disabilities are more likely to suffer domestic violence and sexual assault than women without disabilities. Women with disabilities report abuse that lasts longer and is more intense than women without disabilities.

An update on what researchers have learned during the past ten years about abuse and women with disabilities is reflected in a study by Powers et al., 2009, which offers perspectives on the state of current research and its implications for future research and advocacy efforts. In this study, information about women’s use of safety promoting behaviors was gathered from 305 disabled and deaf women who completed an anonymous Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interview. For additional information, refer to [PDF: 80KB].


The online version of this article can be found at


The Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Under ACA, women’s preventive health care (e.g., mammograms, cancer screenings, and other services) is covered with no cost for new health plans. One of the major preventive services currently covered includes annual Screening and Counseling for Interpersonal and Domestic Violence.


Laws on Violence Against Women
The U.S. Congress has passed two main laws related to violence against women, the Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.

The Violence Against Women Act
The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act


For questions please contact:

Rosaly Correa-de-Araujo, MD, MSc, PhD
Deputy Director
Office on Disability/Office of the Secretary


 HHS Federal Resources:



HHS, Health Resources and Services Administration


HHS, Office on Women’s Health


HHS, Administration for Children and Families: Family Violence Prevention and Services Program


Other Federal Resources:

The White House


U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women


Non-Federal Resources:

Safe Place
Areas of expertise: deaf culture, developmental, physical and mental health disabilities, sexual assault and domestic violence

Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
Areas of expertise: sexual assault, domestic violence and survivors with co-occurring issues (drug & alcohol and mental health disabilities)

Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services
Areas of expertise: deaf and deaf-blind victims/survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking

Areas of expertise: deaf survivors of domestic and sexual violence

Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services
Areas of expertise: deaf and hard of hearing survivors of domestic, sexual violence and stalking

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health
Areas of expertise: domestic violence, sexual assault, trauma and survivors with developmental disabilities

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Areas of expertise: domestic violence and survivors with all disabilities, deaf survivors

Disability Rights
Areas of expertise: access to services by persons with disabilities and deaf persons; intersection of violence and women with disabilities, deaf women

Rose Brooks Center
Areas of expertise: domestic violence, inclusion, best practices when working with survivors with disabilities (deaf survivors, etc)

Vera Institute of Justice’s Accessing Safety Initiative
Areas of expertise: intersection of violence against women with disabilities and deaf women; best practices for disability and violence against women’s service providers

Center for Research on Women with Disabilities
Areas of expertise: sexuality, reproductive health, self-esteem, stress management, depression, self management, violence against women, health promotion, access to health care, secondary conditions


Disability-Specific Resources:
Below are links to relevant violence screening questions, training tools, manuals, applied research papers and special collections on the intersection of disabilities, deaf culture, and violence against women.

Screening for Violence - The Center for Research on Women with Disabilities has developed a tool (screening instrument) for opening the door to conversations with women with disabilities regarding abuse and violence. It consists of four items: the first two were developed and tested previously in a general population of women and the second two address abuse that is specifically related to having a disability.

Power & Control and Respect Wheels - The Power & Control and Respect Wheels were developed from the experiences of women and men with disabilities in Austin, Texas, who were abused by an intimate partner. Information and experiences were collected through focus groups with women and men with disabilities in 2008.

Frequently Asked Questions - Answers to frequently asked questions about serving abuse survivors who have disabilities.

Detecting & Reporting Abuse - Children, youth and adults with disabilities who are abused or witness violence experience emotional, physical or developmental consequences. Some examples include low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, loneliness, isolation, fear, depression, developmental delays, physical injuries or additional disabilities. Many survivors of abuse demonstrate a marked change in behavior in response to the abuse.

Getting Safe and Sober: Real Tools You Can Use [PDF: 9MB] - An advocacy teaching kit for working with women coping with substance abuse, interpersonal violence and trauma.

Real Tools: Responding to Multi-Abuse Trauma [PDF: 23MB] - A tool kit to help advocates and community partners better serve people with multiple issues.

Accessing Safety Initiative - Funded by the Office on Violence Against Women, Department of Justice. The Accessing Safety Initiative helps organizations and communities meet the needs of women with disabilities & deaf women who are victims or survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault & stalking.

Violence in the Lives of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing - This collection offers information regarding the experiences and needs of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and victims/survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence. The purpose of this collection is to: 1) increase knowledge and understanding of deaf culture; 2) provide resources to assist helping professionals in direct service work with deaf individuals; and 3) highlight best practices.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Domestic Violence : Understanding the Intersections - This collection offers tools to screen for traumatic brain injury within the context of domestic violence as well as presentations, articles and other relevant resources on this topic.