Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quest article on crimes against people with disabilities

The May/June issue of Quest magazine, which is published by the MDA, included an article on "Crimes Against People with Disabilities." It notes, amongst other things, that the rate of violent crime is from four to five times higher for people with disabilities than for the general population; that many victims with disabilities do not report abuse to authorities; that support for them is much less available from social service providers; and that abuse against people with disabilities is more commonly accepted and less frequently punished than for other victim groups.

The article can be accessed here. Here is an excerpt:

Yesterday I was battered,” begins an entry in the blog of a man with ALS myotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

In a series of such entries over a period of months, the writer (now deceased) described how his hired caregiver abused him, including taking away the bell he used to summon help, ignoring him when he did ring and ridiculing his efforts to communicate as his paralysis spread.

A woman with limb-girdlemuscular dystrophy had it worse. In October, 60-year-old Sherry Taub of Green Valley, Ariz., and her husband set out on an RV trip. David Taub originally told police his wife had been robbed and fatally beaten in their RV
when they parked at a New Mexico truck stop. Later, he admitted he himself was
the assailant.

Crime and violence against people with disabilities is “an invisible epidemic,” said Daniel D. Sorenson, chairman of the California Coalition on Crime Against People with Disabilities, in a 2001 speech entitled “Hate Crimes Against People with Disabilities.”

These crimes include rape, assault and murder, as well as economic crimes. Sorenson noted that “most experts agree that the rate of violent crime is from four to 10 times higher for people with disabilities than for the general population.”

In his paper “Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities” (1994), Gregor Wolbring, research professor at the University of Calgary (Canada), characterized the types of people most frequently guilty of abuse:

0-5 percent are strangers
15 percent are acquaintances and neighbors
15-25 percent are natural family members
30 percent are disability service providers