Violence and Abuse Against Disabled People

Physical violence and abuse are commonplace in the lives of many disabled people. These stories of violence are almost always individualized. They are painted as individual tragedies (much like disabilities themselves) and this depiction does a grave disservice to disabled people and our experiences. Second wave feminists fought to take violence against women out of the individual sphere and acknowledge that it is systemic. A similar refocusing needs to happen around violence against disabled people, particularly disabled women (who, while they often experience abuse have largely been excluded from feminist movements to address and end violence against women).

Rates of violence against disable people are terrifyingly high. We are one of the groups most frequently victimized by violent crime.

There are numerous tragic stories of people being targeted because they are disabled and subject to public humiliation and violence, yet the United States federal government does not consider an attack on a disabled person because they are disabled to be a hate crime. Legislation to include disability as a federal hate crime was defeated in 2002. Only 32 states recognize disability as a protected group under hate crime legislation. There have been about 1,100 reported hate crimes against disabled people in the United States since 1991.

In Canada, disabled people are supposedly classified as an identifiable group for the purposes of a have crime but it is very rarely used.

There are also many people who have been murdered because they are disabled.