Abusers (in any situation) are usually someone the victim knows such as a spouse, partner or family member. Many persons with disabilities are of greater risk for abuse and for extended periods of time. Some of the reasons for this may include:
• Society typically overlooks persons with disabilities as passive or helpless. These biases can keep individuals from seeing people with disabilities as likely victims of abuse.
• Individuals with cognitive disabilities may have spent time in institutional environments and have learned to be cooperative and compliant. This may make it difficult for victims to defend themselves against abuse.
• Individuals may be reliant on their abusers for care, especially financially. Victims may be afraid to complain for fear of being punished. If their disability prevents them from leaving a bad situation, they may feel helpless to escape.
• Often the abuser isolates the victim and prevents them from using the phone or leaving the home to seek assistance from community agencies that may identify the abuse.
• If the victim does not speak or has difficulty being understood, it may prevent them from reporting.
• Systems and institutions (medical, law enforcement, etc.) may deny information to the person with the disability, but inform the caregiver who may be responsible for the abuse.
• Systems and institutions may make access difficult through lack of accessible communication, accessible facilities and a knowledgeable staff.
• There is a lack of statistical data on persons with disabilities to support the identification of service gaps.