Words Matter: Exploring Identity and Language for Survivors with Disabilities

In the disability community, where there is a history of erasure, exploitation, and misunderstanding, language choices we make when talking about people with disabilities (also referred to as disabled people) are ever-changing and important. How people understand themselves adapts and shifts as our communities, movements, and cultures change, as does our language about identity.
Recognizing and honoring people’s choices about their identity is critical to supporting survivors with disabilities. Service providers need to understand, respect, and uplift community members’ decisions about their identity, including the language that they use.
Join us for a dynamic discussion with Max Barrows and Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams, moderated by Olga Trujillo, as we delve into their perspectives on identity and language, the various perspectives of disability communities, and the importance of empowering those most impacted to make decisions about their own identities and the language we use.

Emerging Issues for Domestic Violence Survivors with Disabilities and Deaf Survivors: 2021 and Beyond

Are you grappling with how to best serve survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors during what feels like a constant transition period? Are you trying to have critical conversations within your agency about the challenges you are facing? Have you discovered strategies or best practices for meeting the needs of survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors? Join us during Domestic Violence Awareness Month with the theme of No Survivor Justice Without Racial Justice as we recognize the ever-changing landscape for domestic violence survivors and service providers through an interactive discussion to address these topics and more.
In this webinar, panelists working at the intersection of domestic violence and disability will lead a discussion with the audience on issues including addressing racial equity, ensuring equitable access to technology and services, centering survivors in safety planning and service provision, and evolving your approaches to the work to meet the changing needs of domestic violence survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors.
photos of panelists, Mercedes Thompson, Brintha Jeyalingam, and Maria Armstrong

End Abuse Webinar – Innovations at the Intersection: Centering Survivors with Disabilities in the Movement

Survivors with disabilities are experts in their own lived experiences, so they should guide our work to ensure services are accessible and responsive to their needs. To meaningfully work with survivors with disabilities, you need to make sure everything you do is accessible and inclusive.
In this panel discussion, self-advocates from Washington, D.C. and Kansas who are working to address domestic and sexual violence against people with disabilities will share how their work empowers them as advocates and how they have partnered with their team members to play a meaningful leadership role.

In the session, you will learn strategies for decision-making and power-sharing, tips for ensuring cognitive and physical access, and ways to empower survivors with disabilities with the tools and support they need to be equal peers in the work to address domestic and sexual violence.

End Abuse Webinar: Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault with Disabilities with a Survivor Support Packet

In our first Innovations at the Intersection webinar, we will highlight the Survivor Support Packet, a support guide for survivors of sexual assault with disabilities. If you are looking for a tool to help you serve survivors with disabilities, the Survivor Support Packet, developed by and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in collaboration with the rest of the Mass Rights for Change team, may be what you are looking for! The Survivor Support Packet includes a list of a survivor’s rights following sexual assault, a community resource list, scripts to help survivors reach out for help, self-care exercises, and tips for people supporting survivors with disabilities.
In this interactive discussion, we will talk about the need that led to the Survivor Support Packet, how it could be valuable in your community, and how you can create a similar, customized resource by partnering with self-advocates. You will also learn some of the strategies used in the Survivor Support Packet that could be helpful in working with survivors with disabilities you serve.

About the Panelists:

The panelists for this session from the Mass Rights for Change include self-advocates, advocates, and attorneys. The team is made up of three organizations: MASS Advocates Standing StrongVictim Rights Law Center, and Pathways for Change, Inc. The Mass Rights for Change team is a multi-disciplinary team working to address the needs of survivors of sexual violence with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Central Massachusetts.

Register for the Webinar 

Serving Survivors with Mental Health Disabilities

Each May, we observe Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a time to celebrate the resilience of people with mental health disabilities and honor their voices as they work to end stigma and increase access. This month also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on where we can improve our services to better serve them. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence with mental health disabilities still face significant barriers in seeking and receiving healing services, including more significant or unfamiliar responses to trauma and lingering stigma around their disabilities. Service providers must continue the work in ensuring survivors’ services are safe, welcoming, and accessible and that their experiences are centered. Join Olga Trujillo as they explore the needs of survivors with mental health disabilities and potential solutions for overcoming barriers to services that providers can implement to be more responsive to their needs.


Olga Trujillo joined the Center on Victimization and Safety as a Project Manager in 2021. Olga is an attorney, speaker, author, who in 1993 was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Olga’s memoir, The Sum of My Parts was released by New Harbinger Publications in October 2011. Olga trains internationally to help advocates, courts and first responders to improve their work with people with invisible disabilities.


Serving Survivors of Sexual Assault with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Each April, we come together to pause, to reflect, and to uplift the experiences of sexual assault survivors. Please join us as we honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a conversation centering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are more likely to experience sexual assault. In this webinar, you will learn about the unique risks they face, barriers they encounter when seeking services, and best practices that you can implement to serve survivors with I/DD effectively. Also, a self-advocate will share their experiences and provide tips for ways in which you can increase survivors’ comfort, be trauma-informed, and meet the needs of those most likely to experience sexual assault.


Our presenter for this session will be Leslie Myers, a Senior Program Associate at the Center on Victimization and Safety. She will also host a question-and-answer session with a self-advocate.


One Year Later: Reflections on Sustaining Services for Survivors with Disabilities During COVID-19 (End Abuse Webinar)

The past year has brought unprecedented challenges and evolving landscapes for all of us. For those who were already underserved – such as survivors with disabilities – COVID-19 amplified the barriers that exist to have their healing and justice support needs met, and further increased their experiences of isolation. Providers have leveraged their creativity, flexibility and relationships to adapt and ensure that survivors with disabilities were able to sustain services during this difficult time.
Join us for this panel discussion, where participants will hear from providers on the strategies they used to sustain services to survivors with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists will also explore the enduring challenges survivors with disabilities face as this health crisis continues, and their hopes for the future.

A Conversation on Serving Deaf Survivors (End Abuse Webinar)

Deaf individuals in the U.S. experience rates of domestic and/or sexual violence equal to or higher than hearing individuals, with emerging research pointing to rates twice that of hearing individuals. From 911 systems that only take phone calls to victim service providers not providing American Sign Language interpreters, Deaf survivors routinely face barriers when reaching out for help. Through this conversation with Deaf advocates, you will gain insight into the experiences of Deaf survivors, get a better understanding of the barriers they encounter, and practical information on how to better meet the needs of Deaf survivors.

A Conversation on Serving Survivors with Disabilities (End Abuse Webinar)

Research has shown that people with disabilities experience increased risk of domestic and sexual violence compared to people without disabilities. They also experience unique challenges in receiving healing and support, everything from receiving outreach for services through participating in programming. This conversation will help you begin to understand the unique dynamics of sexual and domestic violence in the lives of people with disabilities and the barriers they face when seeking services. You will also receive practical guidance for making your services safer and more accessible for all!

Applying Trauma-Informed Care and Disability Justice to Working with Survivors of Sex Trafficking (End Abuse Webinar)

People with disabilities are more likely to experience sex trafficking than their peers. Traffickers deliberately target victims they think will be easily isolated and controlled, so conditions surrounding people with disabilities, including the fact that they are marginalized, devalued, and isolated, make people with disabilities more vulnerable to this type of abuse. A trauma-informed approach to supporting sex trafficking survivors with disabilities recognizes signs and symptoms of trauma, resists re-traumatizing survivors, and provides safe and accessible services and healing. This webinar will describe the importance of using a trauma-informed approach to supporting survivors of sex trafficking with disabilities and provide attendees with skills to more effectively support these survivors.