Tips for recognising and responding confidently to domestic and family violence crisis
The prevalence of domestic family violence for women is a significant social and community issue. This issue encompasses various forms of violence and abuse, including physical violence, partner violence, emotional abuse, sexual harassment and stalking.
Acquired disability, both visible and invisible, including post-traumatic stress injury, is an impact of domestic family violence on women. Gender inequality and ableism are the two main drivers of domestic family violence for women and girls with disability and we know that women with an intellectual or psychological disability are nearly three times more likely than women with a physical disability to experience violence.
Jenny Watts-Samspon, a special matters expert trainer for the DV-alert Working with Women with Disabilities stream, recently delivered a compelling presentation at the ASORC Conference. She shared her top ten considerations for practitioners, offering valuable insights into addressing domestic and family violence.
Recognise that acquired disability is an impact of domestic and family violence. Disability can be genetic, acquired through injury or trauma, visible or invisible.
Recognise the impact of gender inequality and ableism. The Changing the Landscape report identified that the drivers for domestic and family violence for women with disability were: 1) Gender inequality and; 2) Ableism.
Recognise and assess the barriers for women to access your services; and how your organisation’s attitudes and behaviours impact equity.
Recognise signs of domestic and family violence and not assume this is the impact of disability.
Respond with language that reflects the Social Model of Disability and the Human Rights Model.
Respond equitably and confidently to seamlessly accommodate differences.
Respond with time and space to build rapport and trust. Include these factors in your rehabilitation plan.
Respond with organisational policy or tools to ensure domestic and family violence is included to ensure women with disability can connect with the right services as part of their rehabilitation.
Respond by forming collaborations with services in your area.
Leave assistance and support to specialised support services but be confident to name domestic and family violence.
The DV-alert Working with Women with Disabilities Workshop is relevant and valuable for every frontline worker and volunteer across all sectors. The DV-alert model, Recognise, Respond and Refer, aims to assist practitioners to support women with disability effectively to keep them and their children safe and to live free from violence. These ten considerations provide an insight into the nuance of this training and the opportunity that exists to upskill to be empowered to act.
Jenny Watts-Sampson is a specialist trainer for the DV-alert Women with Disability training program. She is a woman with both visible and invisible disability connected to her degenerative genetic condition. Jenny is a contractor to Lifeline and works full-time for the National Australia Bank as their Associate Director Accessibility leading and driving the disability inclusion and accessibility agenda for the past three and half years. She worked as a rehabilitation counsellor for CRS Australia and has a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counselling. For the past 11 years, Jenny has moved into supporting employers to more inclusive of people with disability by addressing barriers in systems, processes, attitudes and behaviours, a role that is very rewarding as it builds confidence in providing answers to the ‘how’ question. If we know how to be inclusive and accessible of people with disability then we make a better world not only now but for future generations.