Rapid Response to the Systematic Abuse of Those with Disabilities

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

The National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV) is an overarching group of individuals, organizations, agencies, coalitions, and groups that embrace a national, multi-disciplinary and multicultural commitment to violence prevention across the lifespan.

In our society, there are highly vulnerable people completely dependent on a caretaker who puts their needs and interests first. Unfortunately, there are times when various forms of interpersonal violence are committed against such a vulnerable person.

Over the weekend, news broke of a patient in the Hacienda Healthcare facility giving birth after nearly ten years in a vegetative state. This complete violation of the human rights of a dependent individual by at least one rapist, involves more than one type of violence. First, a woman entirely unable to give any form of consent was raped. Second, the woman was chronically neglected by facility staff who indicated they were unaware not only of the growing signs of her pregnancy, but also of the physical signs she was in labor until several hours had passed. This case highlights not only the concern over the wellbeing of those in the care of abusers, but also the danger of negligence by other caretakers who are unable to see the signs of ongoing abuse.

Studies have shown that individuals with disabilities, whether they be mental, physical, or developmental, are at a greater risk of abuse and neglect throughout their lifetime than their abled counterparts. Statistics on the rate of sexual abuse experience by individuals with disabilities ranges from a low of 41.6% to as high as 83%. According to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) reports of abuse within long-term care facilities has steadily increased. Abuse of those with disabilities is not new or unknown, and yet it still remains one of the most prevalent and long-term forms of abuse in the United States.

The case at Hacienda Healthcare is a startling example of how turning our attention away from disability rights can lead to life-threatening consequences. No one should have ever been allowed the time and oversight to commit such a heinous act. No one, while taking care of the basic needs of this patient, should have missed the signs of rape or, at the very least, the clear signs that she was pregnant. Most importantly, however, no one should ignore the fact that not only did this happen, but it likely is still happening and will continue to happen across the country and across the globe.

NPEIV is committed to reducing interpersonal violence and its consequences through scientific research and application of empirical findings. It is our mission to make the prevention of interpersonal violence a national and international priority and to encourage healthy relationships by linking science, practice, policy and advocacy.

Intervention programs and advocacy programs are already in place, but there is still a startling lack of prevention programs aimed toward the disabled community. NPEIV calls for a renewed focus on proven and promising practices to help prevent abuse against individuals with disabilities.

Through our many partnerships and collaborations, it is our vision to end all types of interpersonal violence, for all people, in all communities, at all stages of life. For more information, please visit www.npeiv.org

The Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute/The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) serves as the fiscal and logistical agents of NPEIV and are a Non-Profit 501(C)(3) Corporation. 

© 2017 by NPEIV

Contact Us

Email : npeiv@ivatcenters.org

​Telephone : ​858-527-1860 ext. 4042