Best Practice Series: Caring for Survivors with Disabilities

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    Best Practice Series: Caring for Survivors with physical and developmental disabilities

    Webinar Details:

    Cost: Free, but you must register

    When: April 11, 2013 at 2:00pm, Eastern


    In December of 2012, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report that found people with disabilities experience violent victimization, including sexual assault, at rates much higher than people without disabilities. According to this report, the rate of violence for men with disabilities was 42 per 1,000, compared to 22 per 1,000 for males without disabilities, and the rate for women with disabilities was 53 per 1,000 compared to 17 per 1,000 for women without disabilities. Despite the higher rates, survivors with disabilities are less likely to be engaged in traditional responses to sexual assault, including forensic exams, support services, criminal investigations, and prosecution, as the recent events in California have demonstrated. This training will explore the needs and barriers of survivors with disabilities, including complex issues such as consent and guardianship, and will provide concrete strategies first responders can use to create an accessible and welcoming experience for survivors with disabilities.

    The goals of the training are three-fold: (1) to increase understanding of sexual violence against individuals with developmental and/or physical disabilities; (2) to gain an understanding of the specific needs and barriers to accessing supports and services survivors with disabilities face; (3) to learn strategies to create an accessible and welcoming experience for survivors with disabilities. To ensure everyone has the same framework for understanding disability, we will spend a few minutes providing a definition of disability, generally, and will then discuss developmental and physical disabilities, specifically. We will also provide a few basic principles pertaining to disability that inform our approach to this work (such as, “disability is ordinary” and “diagnosis does not predict ability.”). Next, we will provide an overview of sexual violence against people with disabilities. We will provide the latest statistics to ground everyone in the scope and magnitude of this problem and we will discuss the dynamics of this abuse (including who the perpetrators are, the tactics they use – such as grooming and playing on system weaknesses and societal devaluation of people with disabilities). We will then move into a discussion of needs and barriers. We will touch on a broad range of needs and barriers, focusing on those that are most important in each part of the system (advocacy, criminal justice, medical, etc.). After a brief discussion of the barriers, we plan to spotlight two issues specifically: consent and guardianship. The last segment of the training will focus on practical things people can do to create access for survivors with disabilities. We will discuss the strategies along a few lines: physical, communication, and attitudinal.


    Presenter Information:

    Shirley Paceley is the founder and director of Blue Tower Training in Decatur, Il. Blue Tower has resources in 48 states and 15 countries and Shirley has spoken in over 30 states as well as in Iceland and Guam.Shirley has worked with people with disabilities for 40 years and has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. Shirley is on the Board of Directors of End Violence Against Women International and the Editorial Board of Sexual Assault Report for her work in violence against persons with disabilities. Shirley is on the statewide collaborative team for Illinois Imagines and the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council’s Responding to victims with Disabilities Committee. Shirley is a publish author, trainer, counselor and activist. As a survivor of childhood incest and the sibling to persons with disabilities, this work is Shirley’s passion.

    Nancy Smith is the director of the Center on Victimization and Safety at the Vera Institute of Justice. She oversees the Center’s work to ensure that underserved crime victims have equal access to victim services and justice options. From 2004 to 2009, she directed Vera’s Accessing Safety Initiative, a federally funded program that helps communities across the country improve services for people with disabilities and Deaf people who have experienced domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking. Prior to her work at Vera, Nancy directed a collaborative initiative to prevent family violence across the life spectrum, including abuse of people with disabilities. Nancy trains on issues of collaboration, needs assessment, strategic planning, and capacity building within victim services in general, as well as issues specific to victimization among people with disabilities and Deaf individuals. Nancy has a bachelor’s degree in criminology and women’s studies and a master’s degree in women’s studies with a concentration in feminist policy studies from the Ohio State University.

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