The relationship between disability and domestic abuse

Authored by: Jenna P. Breckenridge

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Violence

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472483515
eBook ISBN: 9781315612997
Adobe ISBN:


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There are over 1 billion disabled people worldwide, making up approximately 15% of the world population. Women are more likely to be disabled than men, with a prevalence of 19% compared to 12% (World Health Organization, 2011). Disability is defined in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) (2007) as the presence of ‘long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder … full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’. In this chapter, disability is understood through an interactional model; although individuals’ impairments can contribute to their difficulties participating in activities of daily life, disability occurs when social and attitudinal barriers in society fail to take account of disabled people’s needs (Shakespeare, 2014). The term ‘disabled people’ is therefore used within this chapter rather than ‘people with disabilities’ in order to recognise that people are predominantly disabled by external factors. The CRPD has outlined disability specific rights to life, liberty and security, independent living as part of a community and equitable access to social protection. The CRPD also stipulates that disabled people should have freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse.

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