People with disabilities are not their primary focus. Abuse is not their primary focus. These affiliated systems – hospitals, schools, criminal justice agencies – all have their own primary focus. Yet, they are key resources for safety. Each of these different places and systems could be the one place that a person with a disability who has been abused goes for help. Why aren’t they helping?
- Someone might not know about the local domestic violence shelter, but they do know and trust their doctor. That doctor then becomes the gateway for that person to access the help needed to end the abuse. Unfortunately, that doctor is unaware of community resources available to help.
- Someone might not understand that the police can do more than investigate the assault a person endured. The police also can be the very resource that connects a person with the rape crisis center advocate. That police officer then becomes the gateway for getting the support needed. Unfortunately, a police officer may focus solely on solving the crime, and the victim does not get connected to the rape crisis center advocate.
Lack of training, lack of accessibility, and attitudinal barriers also prevent these systems from being the most direct gateway for ending abuse of people with disabilities.