Prevalence of violence

Prevalence of violence information from DPPC.

Violence committed against persons with disabilities is a frequently unrecognized and underreported problem that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States as reflected in the following statistics:

  • 54 million Americans with disabilities (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Crime Victim Bulletin, 1998)
  • According to one study in 2000, approximately five (5) million crimes were committed against persons with developmental disabilities in comparison to 1.4 million child abuse cases and one (1) million elder abuse cases. (From Joan Petersilia, Ph.D., When Justice Sleeps: Violence and Abuse Against the Developmentally Disabled.)
  • More than ninety percent (90%) of people (both male and female) with developmental disabilities will experience sexual abuse at some point in their lives. Forty-nine percent (49%) will experience ten or more abuse incidents. (Valenti-Hein, D. & Schwartz, L. (1995). The Sexual Abuse Interview for Those with Developmental Disabilities. James Stanfield Company. Santa Barbara: California)
  • A study of psychiatric inpatients found that eighty-one percent (81%) had been physically or sexually assaulted. (From Jacobson & Richardson, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1987)
  • Sixty-two percent (62%) of women with physical disabilities reported experiencing emotional, physical or sexual abuse. (From Nosek & Howland, 1998)
  • Only three percent (3%) of sexual abuse cases involving people with developmental disabilities will ever be reported. (From Valenti-Hein, D. & Schwartz, L. (1995), The Sexual Abuse Interview for Those with Developmental Disabilities. California: James Stanfield Company.)
  • Adults with developmental disabilities are at risk of being physically or sexually assaulted at rates four to ten times greater than other adults. (From Sobsey, Dick (1994). Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities The End of Silent Acceptance? Maryland: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.)
  • Sixty-eight (68) to eighty-three (83) percent of women with developmental disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, which represents a 50 percent higher rate than the rest of the population (Pease & Franz 1994, Warick, Jason (1997).
  • The violence that women with disabilities experience includes verbal abuse, forced segregation, intimidation, abandonment and neglect, withholding of medications, transportation, equipment and personal assistance services and physical and sexual violence (Matsuda, 1996).
  • Women with disabilities are raped, assaulted and abused at rates more than two times greater than women without disabilities.