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Project started to help disabled victims of domestic abuse

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 February 2018

Picture: Shaping Our Lives

Picture: Shaping Our Lives

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Organisation Shaping Our Lives have been awarded a grant to improve accessibility of violence and abuse services for disabled women, in a project called ‘A Refuge for All’, funded by the Tampon Tax Fund.

Shaping Our Lives have partnered with Bexley Women’s Aid, a local leading provider of violence and abuse services, to pilot a range of activities that will enable the service provider to work with disabled women in an equal and inclusive way.

Even though they are more likely to be at risk of domestic violence, disabled women cannot always get the help they need to keep them and their children safe, leaving them in danger of serious harm, which is what the Refuge For All project wants to change.

For the year ending March 2015, the National Crime survey for England and Wales shows that disabled women are more than twice as likely to experience some form of domestic abuse from partners, family members, friends and carers.

The abuse they experience lasts longer and their injuries are worse, but they are less likely to get the help they need from domestic violence services.

Local staff at Bexley Women’s Aid will receive training and advice to help them make their services as accessible as possible.

Later in the year, the two organisations will hold a meeting for community services, health professionals and organisations for people with disabilities, to share the learning and help build a network to support.

Becki Meakin, from Shaping Our Lives, said: “There are more opportunities for a perpetrator to abuse or control a disabled woman.

“The abuser can withhold essential support such as food and medication or prevent them going out independently.”

One disabled survivor, who has worked with the organisation, said: “I couldn’t do anything when the person came into bed, I couldn’t get out of bed to stop it.”

Clair Johnson, CEO of Bexley Women’s Aid, said: “We always try to work with any disabled woman that calls our helpline, but we want to do all we can to ensure that if a disabled woman feels that they need support they will not hesitate to contact us.”

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