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Study: Women with a Disability More Likely to be Abused

October 28, 2008

Concord, NH – A new facet of domestic violence is getting attention, as experts gauge the increased risks for women who have disabilities. A study presented at this week's American Public Health Association meeting indicates that women with a disability are almost three times more likely to report being abused by an intimate partner than women without a disability.

Grace Mattern, executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, says the findings are similar to what her organizaton has noted over the years, as well.

"They might be more reliant on a caretaker, or they might have less independence. It's just more opportunity for an abuser to abuse and control the victim."

Mattern says in such cases, it's especially important that family and friends be aware of the increased likelihood of abuse for women with disabilities, and be vigilant about the possibility.

"If you see things in a relationship that make you a little uneasy, it's worth asking that person, who you think might be a victim, if they feel safe in the relationship."

It's also important, adds Mattern that disability rights groups and service purveyors specifically screen people for abuse. More information about the study is available online at www.apha.org.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - NH