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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3272.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 2:48 PM

Abstract #107198

Perceptions of PWD Regarding Abuse Directed at PWD

Bernadette M. West, PhD, Health Systems and Policy Department, UMDNJ-School of Public Health, 683 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854, 732-235-4535, westbm@umdnj.edu and Denise Goobic, MA, DD Offenders Project, The Arc of New Jersey, 985 Livingston Ave, North Brunswick, NJ 08902.

Research findings consistently show that PWD are subjected to abuse at rates higher than the rate for people without disabilities. The problem however remains hidden from view for many reasons, including failure to collect data on the disability status of victims of violence or crime, failure to report abuse, myths that prevent people from acknowledging the possibilities of abuse, and limited news coverage of stories involving PWD and abuse. The goal of the research project was to develop a picture of abuse directed at PWD from their perspective, including how it is defined, settings where abuse is seen as more likely to occur, characteristics of perpetrators, reporting actions, and outcomes. Six focus groups were held in NJ and included people with cognitive as well as physical disabilities. Groups were co-facilitated by PWD. Data were analyzed using Atlas.ti. Findings suggest that PWD define abuse in traditional terms—physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse—and in non-traditional ways such as limitation of rights, including the right to bear children, to live independently, to get married, to speak for oneself, and invasion of privacy. Most commonly mentioned forms of abuse were emotional, physical and sexual abuse, followed by financial, neglect, and isolation. Participants were almost three times as likely to identify known perpetrators such as family, community caregivers, institutional staff, and other PWD—compared with unknown perpetrators. Examples of abuse in community settings (including abuse at home and in the workplace) were given more often than examples in institutional settings.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will better understand

    Keywords: Violence, Health Assessment

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:

    I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

    [ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

    Emerging Issues in Disability

    The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA