Survivors with Disabilities — Prevalence Rates


Facts about violence against people with disabilities

  • Approximately 20% of the U.S. population is living with some form of disability.
  • In a national study, 70% of people with disabilities surveyed reported that they have been victims of abuse
  • One study indicated that Deaf and hard of hearing people are 1.5 times more likely to be victims of relationship violence in their lifetime.
  • Students with disabilities experience assault at two times the rate of students without disabilities.
  • 53% of violence against persons with disabilities occurred against those with multiple disability types.
  • People with disabilities are 50% more likely to encounter abuse than the rest of the population.
  • Ableism in our society  and prejudice toward survivors who come forward contribute to the high prevalence rates of sexual violence against people living with disabilities.
  • Evidence suggests that 39-68% of girls and 16-30% of boys with developmental disabilities will experience a form of sexual abuse before the age 18.
  • Children with disabilities are 2.9 times more likely to be victims of sexual abuse compared to children without disabilities.
  • Incidents of abuse against people with disabilities were not reported in about half of cases, and arrests resulted from reports is only about 10% of cases.
  • Some reasons why survivors with disabilities may not report is due to a lack of familiarity with the system, embarrassment, fear, and concern about functioning.
  • One study found the following:
    • 22% of participants with disabilities reported some form of abuse over the last year
    • 62% had experienced a form of physical or sexual abuse before the age of 17
    • Of those who were abused within the past year, 40% of them reported having little or no knowledge of abuse-related resources
    • Only 27% reported the incident
    • 19% of respondents, both men and women, reported having been forced or coerced into sex at some point in their lifetime.

Facts on trauma-induced mental illness

  • Survivors who acquire disabilities after an assault may be coping with both the trauma of the crime and changes in their life to the newly acquired disability
  • Compared to women who have not experienced it, those who have experienced sexual assault are:
  • 3 times more likely to develop depression
  • 6 times more likely to develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs


Information about LGBTQ people with disabilities

  • Nearly one third of LGBTQ people report having an impairment or disability
  • Many people with disabilities are infantilized and seen as asexual, where asexuality is negatively stigmatized. Therefore, people with disabilities are rarely given sexual agency and their identities as LGBTQ are commonly erased.