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Delphi Survey Summary

Disabled Women Rate Caregiver Abuse and Domestic Violence as Number One Issue

Violence and abuse issues were rated the number one priority by women with disabilities on both rounds of a national Delphi survey conducted by Berkeley Planning Associates (BPA) a small employee-owned company operated and managed principally by women (including women with disabilities). The Delphi survey was conducted during 1995-96 to seek input from women with disabilities about the importance of various research and policy issues, as one of BPA's activities under a federal government grant entitled Meeting the Needs of Women with Disabilities: A Blueprint for Change.

The Delphi survey was distributed to over 200 knowledgeable women with disabilities around the country. About one hundred women (104) responded. The women were of all ages and lived in all areas of the country (California had the highest number of respondents). Respondents ranked Abuse and Violence as the most important research topic, followed by Reproductive Health, Programs for Girls with Disabilities, and Substance Abuse. They identified two key information needs that need to be addressed:

(1) developing and disseminating materials for women with disabilities and service providers about caretaker abuse,
(2) disseminating information to abuse/violence programs about their legal requirements to serve women with disabilities, and about how they can become more accessible.

The results of this survey indicate that women with disabilities themselves recognize abuse and violence, especially caretaker abuse, as a high priority issue that gets little attention from most service providers and policy makers. Women with disabilities share with non-disabled women the fact that their intimate partners may physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse them. However, they can also be subject to types of abuse that are not issues for non-disabled women, such as denial of medications, withholding attendant services, or denying access to assistive devices. Abusive caretakers may be parents or other family members, or paid staff, as well as intimate partners, and the consequences of separation from these caretakers may be life-threatening.

Women with disabilities need mainstream programs such as domestic violence shelters and rape crisis lines to understand that they too are sexual beings, that they are the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and that they have disability-related needs that can be met by programs committed to becoming accessible to all women who need their services.

Berkeley Planning Associates
440 Grand Ave., Suite 500
Oakland, CA 94610

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