It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

By Lindsay Mohler
October, 04, 2020{Image Description: Teal background with a purple ribbon and white text that reads: “It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month! This is an important time to talk about domestic violence in the autistic community and prevent it from happening.” Audio is light piano music that is interpreted as a reflection.” Song is called Somber Fight, by Jon Björk.}
October, like AAC Acceptance Month, is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Autistic Community in particular faces numerous challenges when it comes to Domestic Violence. These statistics are important to note for educational purposes, and FAA does not condone domestic violence. People with disabilities are more likely to experience domestic violence than the neurotypical and able-bodied people, (Breiding MJ, Armour BS, 2015). People with disabilities are three times as likely to be sexually assaulted as their peers without disabilities. Also, for disabled women, more than 80% of women with disabilities have been sexually assaulted.
Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) who are at the intersections of the disability community and the LGBTQ+ community within their identity are more likely to experience different types of domestic violence than white disabled LGBTQ+ people alone, (.Robbins, C. G., Durso, L.E., Bewkes, F. J., et. al., 2017). As a result, it shows that ableism, racism, and other forms of oppression are ever-present in domestic violence, (Rodríguez-Roldán, V., 2020). Trans disabled women experience forms of domestic violence at a high rate. According to Garthe, Hildago, and others, 42% of youth trans disabled women experienced different types of intimate partner violence, showing a high level of vulnerability, (Garthe, R., Hidalgo, M., Jane Hereth, et. al., 2018). 61 percent of trans and nonbinary individuals that have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime are disabled. Folks that are in these minoritized groups experience different forms of racism, ableism, queerphobia, and and other forms of oppression when it comes to domestic violence.
Domestic violence can come in many forms towards disabled people, and is not just caused by partners alone. It can also be caused by family, co-workers/bosses, colleagues, and friends. Domestic violence does not just occur in women, trans, and non-binary folks and can occur in cisgender and trans men. Domestic violence looks like the following for disabled folks, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline:

  • Physical, emotional, verbal, financial, and sexual abuse. Abuse can cause temporary or permanent disability.
  • Seeking further help can lead to further harm.
  • Withholding, damaging, or destroying assistive devices.
  • Threatening to “out” your disability identity to others if it is “invisible” or carries stigma.
  • Harming or threatening to harm your service animal.
  • Using your disability to justify an abusive partner’s behavior.
  • Preventing you from seeing a doctor.
  • Sexual activity if your disability makes you incapable of giving consent.
  • Refusing to help you with life tasks, including self care such as the bathroom, the shower, putting on clothing, etc.
  • Withholding or threatening to withhold medication, or intentionally giving you incorrect doses by over-medicating or mixing medications in an unsafe or non-prescribed way.
  • Stealing or withholding Social Security Disability checks.
  • Telling you that you “aren’t allowed” to have a pain flare up.

Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline
Mental Health is largely impacted by domestic violence and can caused PTSD, as well as C-PTSD. A study by Bethany Coston indicates that “…75% of all disabled women, regardless of sexual orientation, reported poor mental health as a result,” (Coston, B., 2018). According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, disabled folks who experience domestic violence:

  • Tend to be abused more frequently.
  • Are abused for longer periods of time.
  • Are less likely to access the justice system.
  • Are more likely to be abused by a caregiver or someone they know; many are repeatedly abused by the same person.
  • Are more likely to remain in abusive situations.

How to get help (and you do not have to do all of these if you do feel the need to reach out and are being abused, but there are several options to choose from):

  1. By contacting a local domestic violence center in your area, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at their phone, which is 1-800-799-SAFE, or talk to them through their site.
  2. Contacting our organization. You may email us at, or contact us via any of our social media accounts. We will re-direct you to an organization if you need assistance in seeking out a local chapter in your area that handles domestic violence. Everything you share with us is vital to your safety, and we will be required to contact local authorities in your area if you do contact us.
  3. Creating a safety plan. This includes a way to get out of the location and environment you’re currently in.
  4. We at FAA can provide advocacy and research towards a domestic violence organization if the domestic violence org is uninformed of how disabled people may experience domestic violence, even if our organization mainly serves autistic people.
  5. Contacting RAINN, which is the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. They can be contacted via 1-800-656-4673, or through their site to chat.
  6. Contacting friends, family, or others that are trustworthy. This means people that you very much likely think will help you out of your current situation.
  7. Opening up to a local therapist you’re seeing or counselor, or other type of medical professional. They are required by law to report any cases of harm and abuse.

Motivating Quotes:

“Remember that everyone deserves to have a healthy, loving, and respectful relationship—no matter what.” -National Domestic Violence Hotline”We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.” –Brené Brown“Just because someone isn’t willing or able to love us, it doesn’t mean that we are unlovable.” –Brené Brown“Regardless of the circumstances of your relationship or past, no one ever deserves to be abused and you’re never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions.” -National Domestic Violence Hotline

{Image Description: Power and Control wheel from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.} Image Source: here.

Why does domestic violence occur? What themes does it draw out?

  1. First theme: Power and control: disabled people, even autistic people, can be more susceptible to repeated experiences of abuse and people who abuse love power and control.
  2. Second theme: learned behavior: anyone can become abusive towards another person at any time because it is a learned behavior. Abusers learned this behavior through others.
  3. Third theme: revenge: abuse can also lead to neglect, punishment, and other patterns that cause chaos. Someone with a revenge mindset may feel motivated to abuse and not stop this pattern,
  4. Fourth theme: jealousy: abusive behavior may occur out of jealousy.
  5. Fifth theme: alcohol and other forms of addiction: the domestic abuser may use alcohol to unhealthily cope with their situation, and blame you for their addiction.
  6. Sixth theme: hatred: Feelings of confusion, fear, or anger are normal responses to abuse, but they may also make you feel isolated or like no one will understand. Your abuser may hate you, and their actions do reflect this; however, abuse is a choice and they have a choice to stop.
  7. Seventh theme: lack of accountability and personal boundaries: The abuser may not be giving themselves personal boundaries in their relationship with you, which can create further conflict and harm.

More reasons and information can be found here.
Domestic violence can lead to filicide, and other harms in the autistic community. The issue with violence directed our community is not one that FAA takes lightly. The suicide rate for the autistic community is at 72% (Cassidy, S., Bradley, L., Shaw, R. et al., 2018). Please remember that you matter, and people are here for you. Domestic violence is no joke. And if you or someone you know is dealing with this subject, we hope you find this article to be resourceful.

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