Crime, abuse and neglect committed against persons with disabilities are a frequently unrecognized and underreported problem that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.
For example, in 2009, the Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics released a comprehensive report that detailed the incidence of crime against persons with disabilities, including:
- Persons with disabilities were victims of approximately 47,000 rapes, 79,000 robberies, 114,000 aggravated assaults, and 476,000 simple assaults;
- Nearly one (1) in five (5) violent crime victims with a disability believed that they became a victim because of their disability;
- Age-adjusted rate of nonfatal violent crime against persons with disabilities was 1.5 times higher than the rate for persons without disabilities;
- Females with a disability had a higher victimization rate than males with a disability; males had a higher rate than females among those without a disability;
- Persons with a cognitive functioning disability had a higher risk of violent victimization than persons with any other type of disability; and
- Persons with more than one type of disability accounted for about fifty-six (56) percent of all violent crime victimizations against those with any disability. Harrell, E., Ph.D., Rand, M., Crime Against People with Disabilities, 2007, Bureau of Justice Statistics (2009).
In addition to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics report, there are additional published studies and statistics outlining the incidence of crime committed against persons with disabilities, including:
- Nearly 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have a disability. According to a comprehensive Census Bureau report, approximately 56.7 million people (18.7 percent of the population) living in the United States had some kind of disability in 2010, with 68 percent reporting the disability was severe.
(U.S. Census Bureau, Americans with Disabilities:2010 - Household Economic Studies.
Current Population Reports, Matthew W. Brault, Issued July 2012, P70-131)
- 54 million Americans with disabilities
(U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Crime Victim Bulletin, 1998)
- More than 25% of persons with severe mental illness had been victims of a violent crime during a single year, a rate more than 11 times higher than that of the general population, even after controlling for demographic differences. Linda Teplin et al., “Crime Victimization in Adults with Severe Mental Illness: Comparison with the National Crime Victimization Survey,” Archives of General Psychiatry 62 (2005): 914, http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/62/8/911 (accessed September 29, 2011)
- A study of North Carolina women found that women with disabilities were four times more likely to have experienced sexual assault in the past year than women without disabilities. (Sandra Martin et al., “Physical and Sexual Assault of Women with Disabilities,” Violence Against Women 12 (2006): 823)
- Only three (3) percent of sexual abuse cases involving people with developmental disabilities will ever be reported. (Valenti-Hein, D. & Schwartz, L. (1995). The Sexual Abuse Interview for Those with Developmental Disabilities, California: James Stanfield Company)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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 Sun Phoenix)
- 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 then those of women without disabilities (Sobsey, Dick (1994). Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities The End of Silent Acceptance? Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company, Baltimore)
- Adults with disabilities experience violence/abuse at least twice as often as people without disabilities (Sobsey, Dick (1994). Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities The End of Silent Acceptance? Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company, Baltimore)
- Women with disabilities are more likely than other women to be victimized, to experience violence that is more severe and prolonged, and to suffer more serious and chronic effects from that violence (Sobsey, Dick (1994). Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities The End of Silent Acceptance? Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company, Baltimore)