Deadly Intersections presentation replay: disability and gender-based violence

So I did my presentation on disability and gender-based violence for Festival of Debate and it went really well! It was great to have so many interested people attend and to be able to share my knowledge and experience with people who care and want to learn.

Enjoy the video, and the transcript below (the transcript is automated so not always entirely accurate). The links I mention to attendees are here.

Right. Well, first of all, welcome everybody. It’s really nice to see so many people here. My name is Charlotte Mead and I’m the branch leader of the Women’s Equality Party branch in Sheffield. It’s really love to see, let me see. Well, so I’m just really, really here just to introduce the wonderful and amazing Philippa Willitts or Pippa. As we, as we know her, I’m really, really proud and happy to have Pippa as a member of the women’s equality party, because she brings so much not only to our branch, but nationally to the conversation typically around disability rights and, and LGBT rights as well. So I’m, I’m really, really proud that she’s the member of the women’s equality party. And this is something that I know that she’s very passionate about and, and has got some amazing information to tell us now. And so I’m just gonna, I’m just going to hand over to the brilliance clipper. Thank you, Charlotte. I feel like I need to have a little cry after that.
So yes, I am a member of the women’s equality party, and I’m also a member of the disability and LGBT caucuses, which is like groups within the party based around a particular interest. And I’m also a journalist. And one of the things I write about is gender based violence in particular victim blaming stuff, and as a disabled person and a survivor, and somebody interested in the issues. These are topics that come together for me quite nicely. We have closed captions at the bottom of the screen. They are automated. So they’re not always correct, but they’re better than no closed captions, basically. So it probably goes without saying, but this presentation might be triggering, especially to anybody with a history of sexual or domestic abuse or violence.
I know people have come with that expectation, but it’s worth pointing out. So do you take care of yourself? If it gets too much leave, they will be a replay. We’re recording it. So take care of yourself first and foremost, there are also some videos in this presentation, videos and zoom don’t always play well together. So in case of particularly sound problems, but any problems I’m going to make all the videos available separately afterwards. So you can watch them if you miss anything. Oh, and also in some of the videos, the speaker has a speech impediment and closed captions are even less accurate then. So bear that in mind.
Why is the right to freedom from all forms of violence, important for women and girls with disability
And the right to be free from all forms of violence for women and girls with disability is important because unfortunately we agree that is an, an increased risk of violence, Jude around vulnerability and due to the fact that we live with disabilities, it’s important
So that they feel so empowered. You want it to be signed
Well, I think it’s important for everyone that the reason why it’s important, particularly for the disabilities, I think is that people deserve to explore their environment, do whatever they want, really, without being scared of going out and do it
To teach us women. That’s not the why of life. There is a bit of luck out there not just falling, but we need to understand the importance to be safe and to be free and to understand how domestic violence affects you and mentally,
Because it’s a human, right? Because every single human Bain deserves to live free from violence, from all forms of violence. And unfortunately women and girls with disability, often experience forms of violence that don’t like to be talked about in society and women and girls with disability are often more vulnerable to violence, but we need to be included in the conversation and we need to be included in national schemes to end violence.
So I’m going to initially start with a brief look at the language of disability and the language I’m going to use. And a bit of an explanation as to why. So I refer to disabled people, not people with disabilities. If somebody is not disabled, I call them. Non-disabled rather than able-bodied because able-bodied is problematic in a few ways, but one is that you can be disabled and able-bodied, if you have certain learning disabilities, for instance, your body is fine, but you’re disabled. I talk about disabled ism rather than ableism. And the thing that’s wrong with me, or that’s different about me is an impairment and not a disability. And I’m going to go into why for a little minute.
So the social model of disability don’t be put off because it sounds might sound a bit intellectual academic. It is a sociological theory, but it’s not complicated. It’s based around the idea that disabled people are disabled, not by their own bodies, but by society. If a wheelchair user is at the bottom of a flight of stairs, it’s the stairs. The Todd’s disabling her. It’s the stairs that are stopping her from doing what she needs to do, not her legs or her fatigue or whatever. The reason she’s a wheelchair user. If a blind woman, isn’t a restaurant and can’t have to braille menu. It’s the restaurant that disables her, not her eyes.
The social model of disability is a liberating theory. It stops putting the blame on us as disabled people for impairments and puts the blame for our limitations on a society that could and should accommodate us. But frequently doesn’t the two main other models of disability or the medical model of disability, which is quite a traditional one that says the problem is my body. It’s my legs. It’s my brain. It’s, whatever’s gone wrong. And there’s also the charity model of disability. That’s also sometimes called the pity model of disability, which is all about putting the poor cripple. The social model is the one that advocates for change and rejects the idea that disabled people are faulty or lesser or lacking. So in the social model of disability, the word disability is used to describe the social consequences of having an impairment. People with impairments like me are disabled by society. So disability is a social construct that can be changed. The barriers can be physical attitudinal, like I’m not going to hire her. I don’t think she’ll be reliable or they can be communication barriers such as somebody who uses British sign language. And it doesn’t have an interpreter.
According to the medical model of disability, the word disabled means less able, less able achieve your potential. Less able to have meaningful relationships, less able to an active parts in the world around you. And that this is just your bad luck. This outdated view of the world puts the responsibility of overcoming disabling barriers on the person with an impairment. But this idea is changing. The more modern social model of disability says that a person doesn’t have a disability that they are disabled. They are disabled by society. It says the attitudes and physical barriers imposed on them by society that prevents them from achieving their potential.
The social model was developed by disabled people and the allies to help them take action against discrimination and to empower people, to find solutions and move barriers and campaign together for equality and human rights. They showed how people with lots of different impairments face many of the same problems. These disabling barriers include prejudice, opinions, and attitudes, restricted access, and people being systematically excluded. The social model looks for the ways that society can be planned and organized in order to provide accessibility, independence, and opportunity in a way that enables people rather than disables them. What do we learn from the social model of disability is that disability is a social construct created by social barriers, barriers, which can be eliminated. We learned that it is the responsibility of government, public spaces, businesses, and individual people to make the changes, to increase the access and build a more equal society. But everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. So back to why I use the language I use, I’m a disabled person,
Really sorry to interrupt. Is there any way that the gray square at the bottom of your slides can be removed? It hides some of the content not to where if it can’t, but I don’t
Have a gray square at the bottom of my slide because
The rest of us do, I don’t know whether it’s worth uncaring, your screen and resharing, do you know? What’s,
It might be, it might be the subtitles, which I’m seeing. So if I hide the subtitle, is that better?
Yes. So then thank
You for pointing that out because I had no idea that how strange that you think they would account for that.
Sorry. Thanks about problem.
So yes, a disabled person is disabled by society. If you say a person has a disability is putting the onus in the wrong place. Able-bodied, doesn’t just ignore people with mental health problems or learning disabilities. It also makes it about ability when the problem is disability. The impairment is the difference in my body. Disability is what society does to disabled people. So having said all that in some of the videos that are from Australia and the U S person first language, which is person with disability and ability based language is sometimes preferred. So you’ll come across both.
So the reason I talked about that is because it’s important to keep the social model in mind. When we go through this presentation, the problems with gender based violence and its intersections with disability on never about the woman’s legs or ears or whatever’s wrong. It’s a structural problem that we see in every area of society, disabled women and girls are not immune from male violence. In fact, all the statistics show that we are far more vulnerable to it. Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse compared to non-disabled women. And we find it much harder to access the services that exist and to report and to be taken seriously. 40% of disabled women have been sexually assaulted or raped. And 50% of deaf girls have been sexually abused. There are even ways that disabled women can be abused that simply do not exist for non-disabled people. We are all
Human beings. We all have a way to live a life without abuse, and without someone having power and control,
We’re going to start by looking at some statistics to really get an idea of what we’re dealing with. I have used photos and some of these slides of disabled women they’re stock photos. They’re not particularly photos of victims or survivors. It’s just a way to humanize the numbers. It’s easy to look at percentages and rates and intellectualize them, but behind every statistic is a person. So many as 40% of disabled women experienced sexual assault or physical violence in their lifetimes, more than 90% of all people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual assault. People with intellectual disabilities, which in the UK, we call learning disabilities. Both women and men are the victims of sexual assault rates. More than seven times. Those as non-disabled people, we’re going to look at some of the reasons why throughout this talk,
Why is this particular group of people so vulnerable to them? Well,
I think there are a lot of factors that lead to their vulnerability. And I think it begins early in life as children. They are touched by doctors and therapists and their privacy pervaded in a way that’s, that’s greater than it is for typical children. And so they, they begin life, not thinking they have control over their bodies. We teach compliance to listen to adults and obey what adults say. And children with disabilities disabilities are more likely to follow that path than other other folks are. They are easy to overpower physically, but I think the biggest factor is that the, they do not have the capacity to communicate. Oftentimes there is no speech or have speech that’s difficult to understand, but even more problematic is that when they do speak, people tend not to listen to them. And finally, I think that families care gainly. I think that families, caregivers, teachers are not anticipating, this is the problem. So they don’t even notice the signs and symptoms when there is abuse in the, in the child or the adults experience, sorry,
Female disabled offenders. So women in prison or women who with convictions report the highest rates of sexual abuse in childhood 69% of women accessing mental health services have experienced domestic or sexual violence and disabled women, or two to four times more likely to experience serious sexual violence than non-disabled women or disabled men, disabled children, 3.7 times more likely to be victims of violence. And 2.9 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than non-disabled children. This video is particularly difficult to watch. I find
Jennifer we’re here in Austin.
So as of may the 15th, 2017, I woke up one morning and I was in excruciating. So I went to the hospital. I spent like 12 hours in an emergency room. And that day I got diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called lamps disease. L a M is abbreviation for it. I lost my left kidney due to cancer because of his disease. I cannot work. I’ve been trying to get social security since 2017. And then I keep on getting denied. I have days where I can’t function. And then I have days that I can function.
Did they exit you from the hospital to homelessness?
I tried to work for a while, but my health deteriorated. And unfortunately my job ended up letting me go because I wasn’t dependable anymore. So on that situation, it made it where I couldn’t pay my bills.
Okay. So you had a health crisis lost your kidney and they, you tried to go back to a normal life. It just it’s impossible.
It wasn’t possible because I kept on getting a nice social security benefits. Yes. Since I’ve, since I’ve been out here, I’ve been raped three times. I’m sorry. It’s very scary. I mean, even the shelters are not even safe because your things get stolen or you get beat up in the shelter
To look now specifically at domestic abuse, disabled women and girls are two and a half times more likely to experience domestic violence in their lifetime than non-disabled women. And 80% of deaf people referred for specialists counseling have experienced domestic abuse. There are other forms of related abuse. There is a higher risk of forced marriage and honor based violence for deaf people. And in particular for deaf LGBT people, 20% of stay safe, east service users, which is a specialized support service, experienced abuse in special schools and institutions. And most of the experienced more than one form of abuse in the lifetime, 12.1% of forced marriage cases dealt with in 2017 and fell victim to the learning disability. And there’s also a form of abuse called mate crime, which tends to victimize learning disabled adults, where somebody pretends to be their friend and mistreats them horribly. This has resulted in murder in the worst cases, forced sterilization as another form of abuse that disabled people still suffer. Many people think we it a long time ago, but Spain only dead in December and feminism in India, which is a really good website reported last year of forced sterilization of disabled women and girls. They believe that the motivation for that was so that if these disabled women and girls are raped, they don’t get pregnant as if that solves the problem. When they’re still presumably being raped, they’re just not getting pregnant. As a result.
Similarly, Japan had a eugenics protection law, forced forcibly sterilized 25,000 disabled people against their will. And in Russia, a disabled institutionalized woman talked about being forcibly sterilized in 2008. This is not an ancient issue. This is a current issue. So I’m going to talk a bit about some of the ways that disabled women can be abused. That non-disabled women just don’t experience.
I’ve had brain damage all my life and had invisible disabilities all my life. As I became more visibly disabled, the partner I was with, like while I was figuring out self care, I was requiring his help with it. And our relationship was also breaking up. He convinced me, I’d never have somebody with me again because of this. And I was sick with him longer than I should have because I was thinking, I was thinking I had to longer than it should have, because I was thinking, I was thinking I had to have him around those in my brain. He had me convinced I needed to because I was becoming more physically disabled and worried and in need of help, then you consider that a form of abuse in a way what was happening. It was abusive. Basically, someone controlling you based on things you can’t help. And you’re stuck with something and craft.
So we’re all familiar with forms of domestic abuse. They include physical violence, sexual violence, financial abuse, emotional abuse, and coercive control. But there are other issues that come up again and again and again, with disabled women. So one way to abuse a disabled partner is to deprive them of care. If you refuse to help somebody go to the toilet or to keep clean, they feel indignified and they lose a basic rights. Similarly, we’re fusing to give somebody the medication they need or giving them too much. Medication can both be forms of control. The most subtle form can be acting like you’re somebody, but actually being really rough, removing somebody’s aids and tools will disable them further. If somebody took my crutches away, I would be very limited in what I could do and where I could go. Similarly, some abusers put obstacles around the house so that somebody particularly wheelchair users or visually impaired people, can’t move about independently.
A form of abuse that we’re all familiar with is preventing a victim from speaking to other people. But this is particularly relevant for deaf people. And non-verbal people. 90% of deaf people have hearing parents and many families just cannot communicate effectively. So if you communicate through your partner, if your partner interprets for you, for instance, then you’re even more limited. If somebody is unable to get their own food to cook or to prepare, you might refuse to provide that for them. You can use list insults and offensive language around disability, and also disabled women often risk losing their children. And it is, this can exacerbate this by providing inaccurate reports to social services or to the family courts. Mothers with learning disabilities are three times more likely to have children removed than non-disabled mothers. And while obviously there will be cases where this is valid. If you look at disablers and as a structural issue, you can see that there will be many cases where with adequate supports, somebody could parent really effectively, and that isn’t provided
Against women with disabilities takes a number of forms. So it was well as the other things that affect other women. There’s also those components of violence that only apply to women with disabilities. So being under medicated and over-medicated having your aids and equipment removed so that you can’t be my vault, this is the psychological abuse of telling women that they’re not okay. Oh, that’s against women with disabilities takes a number of forms. So as well as the other things that affect other women, there’s also those components of violence that only applies to women with disabilities. So being under medicated and over-medicated having your aids and equipment removed so that you can’t be my vault, this is the psychological abuse of telling women that they’re no good because,
Okay, there’s something going on with that video. So we’ll just skip that one. Nobody else would want you many victims of domestic abuse have heard this, but I would say it arguably has extra power when somebody is further marginalized, including by disability during COVID, we’ve all heard of the terrifying increase in domestic abuse and murders as well. And disabled women may have been shielding. So have had even less freedom to go out than non-disabled women. And you can also deny somebody access to the communication needs, which might be an app on a phone that speaks for you, that kind of thing. Okay.
And as to why the men targets women with learning disabilities. Well, firstly, they are easier to manipulate probably than other women. They’re not so likely to expose the illegal activities of the perpetrators. And they’re not viewed as credible witnesses by the police or criminal justice system if they do. Yeah. Why are women with learning disabilities particularly vulnerable to this disabilities, particularly vulnerable to this form of grooming? Well, firstly, the learning disability itself that leads people to not being very streetwise, not seeing other ulterior motives and taking things at face value and the women are vulnerable, vulnerable because they have material resources that perpetrators want such as their benefit to income and somewhere to live they’re vulnerable because they’re women are likely already to be socially isolated, which means that they may have few people to turn to and to confide in when something starts to go wrong. And the women are likely to highly value a relationship with a non-disabled man. The label of a learning disability is one that carries some kind of social stigma with it. And people, particularly adults with mild learning disability, very aware of that. And one way of kind of shaking off that stigmatized label is to kind of form a really norm a disabled person.
We need to talk about carers. Everybody presents the idea of a carer as an angel and carers, both paid and unpaid carry out vital work that can enable disabled people to live independent lives. But there is an inherent power imbalance between a carer and a recipient of care. It’s important that we can paint for the rights of unpaid, but we also need to recognize that the recipients of care needs support, empowerment and rights.
If it’s the carer, for example, who is the abuser or the perpetrator of violence against you because as society sees them as martyrs and heroes for being good enough to take care of a woman with a disability, they’re often not Felipe.
There was a story a couple of years ago about a woman who’d been in a coma for 14 years and to everybody’s surprise gave birth. There’s no circumstances in which that wasn’t assault and somebody was arrested and charged with that. And sadly, a few weeks ago I had to add an extra slide to this. A woman had a stroke and broke her leg. She went into hospital and died and it was found young. Her post-mortem that she had been potentially sexually assaulted, PA carers, both paid and unpaid can be significant abusers of disabled people. They have access to disabled people. They have the power to refuse, to help, to refuse, to provide medication and to deny somebody that dignity. And they have the power to intercept communications with other people. They are also often seen as the authority within the relationship.
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to sleep from abuse as a disabled woman. When you’re constantly told that you will not amount to anything because of your disability, when you’re constantly put down and belittled yeah. Away from that is really difficult. It impacts upon your self-confidence your self-worth. So when they do make that decision to flee, that is an extremely significant step. My name is Talia and I am campaigning for better protection and support for disabled women who have experienced domestic abuse. What we need to remember is that the perpetrators of abuse for disabled victims are people that they’re rely on for care and support their carers. And so fleeing from that is really difficult because often, you know, professionals listen to the voice of the carer rather than the disabled woman that they think that the carers know best and that they’re acting in their best interest, which oftentimes they are, but not in every situation.
Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse as non-disabled women, when disabled women make that courageous decision to flee from that abuse, they will then experience barriers in accessing that support, whether that be due to information, not available in accessible formats or in accessible refuge, accommodation, or support that is just not tailored to their needs. And for those reasons that is a need for training, more awareness raising information to be available in accessible format specialist provision for women with disabilities, only one in 10 refuge vacancies are in rooms, accessible to women with physical disabilities. I feel that disabled women are being let down by the current provision. I feel that their voices are not being heard as they should be. Every woman has the right to protection and to support and no women, women, regardless of ability should be left behind. Please support 16 days of activism against gender-based violence and a domestic abuse bill that protects all.
So Sally talked about some of the challenges that can be faced for accessing support. So I’m going to look at that in a bit more detail. Now,
A lot of people with, especially with cognitive disabilities, for example, they don’t know even that they are victims of abuse. So when we look at these survey results, you’ll see there’s lots of asterisks going well, it’s probably higher because, and one of the reasons is a lot of people, they wouldn’t even identify. For example, while some of them moved in, took over my bank account and they gave them keys. Yes, you’ve been completely taken advantage of and, and are being exploited. And, and so there’s a lot of work that has to go into providing education to people with disabilities about their rights. And, but we have to back it up, which is the next issue, which is I think what disturbed me the most, one of those graphs in the study, and it kind of shows the infrequency with which people disabilities women with disabilities, especially are going to report crimes against them, even violent crimes because of fear that they won’t be believed or that if they do report and the police do respond that the justice system will fail. And I think again, we can see so women without disabilities experienced that. So it’s asking a lot of isolated people with few means that they’re going to take that on. And it’s exposing them to a lot of risks,
Disability organizations on generally trained on sexual violence, domestic abuse, sexual violence, and domestic abuse organizations. Often aren’t trained on disability. This is a massive gap. There needs to be collaboration and specialists in both sectors. Another barrier is not being believed. I know a woman who was doing a kind of work placement. She is learning disabled. And the man, her boss was watching her when she went to the toilet and she reported that he was watching her when she went to the toilet and she was told, oh, you just don’t understand. You must be misunderstanding. Thankfully, one person, one relative believed her and pulled her out of this placement, but nothing was done. And presumably other learning disabled women were sent to that placement. Next, there’s also a massive lack of accessible support in a video. We just saw that only one in 10 rooms in refuges or accessible to physically disabled women. We need further gins of documents that are made accessible. So there’s a format called easy read, which is specifically or mainly for people with learning disabilities, learning disabled people. And it’s a way of very much simplifying information and providing one piece of information with one image that backs it up. Then another piece of information with another image, everything is really shrunk down to the essentials.
Similarly, making things available in braille, making videos available in BSL, help planes, obviously aren’t suited to most deaf women. Another barrier is if your abuser is your interpreter or accompanies you everywhere. I can’t tell anyone because he’s always with me. I thought about telling my GP, but he always takes me. He interprets for me. I can’t communicate with anyone without him. Obviously these women, another barrier is that disabled women may need carers to come into a refuge to assist them with their day-to-day living. And some refugees just don’t allow this disabled women may want to talk specifically to other disabled women as counselors. And this may not be available. Some organizations are great. For instance, that finding an LGBT counselor for an LGBT person or finding a black counselor for a black person, we need more disabled women available as counselors and support workers. So because of a lack of understanding and training within a lot of support organizations, the issues disabled to women fades, which is what we’re looking at today, aren’t understood. And so they’re not addressed effectively. And there is all too often, a lack of understanding, respect, or even belief from criminal justice organizations.
You can’t take care of yourself. You can’t run away.
Rhonda Birch is frustrated. She claims her cancer treatment back problems and her need for a caregiver is preventing her from getting into a domestic violence shelter.
And they turn you down because you’re handicap and unable to self care. Then you feel like a bug it’s been stepped on. Every second. I wait is another second that I’m terrorized or it could be a have
Brenda says, she’s trying to get into a domestic violence shelter to get away, but she quickly found her health needs are getting in the
Way he just told me if you can’t self care, you can’t come in. Brenda
Relies on a caregiver to administer a box in a drawer, filled with prescription pills for her back injury and cancer treatments. Also for her bathroom needs and meals, contact 13 asked shade tree and safe nest, prominent shelters in Las Vegas about situations like Brenda’s shade tree says they are not a medical facility and cannot provide specialized medical care and add folks who come to them must be able to feed, bathe and use the bathroom without assistance. Safe. Nest says admitting caregivers into their shelter could put others
Another barrier to getting help is the risk of losing your care plan. Now, if a disabled person has a care plan, that is what decides how many hours of support they get any special help. They get. Everything is based around your care plan. And if you move out of area. So if I moved somewhere other than Sheffield, it Kaplan has to be started again from scratch. And these things take months to set up and many disabled women, especially if they have decent provision at the moment of very afraid of losing that provision. Another barrier is some disabled women, such as some learning disabled women may not recognize what’s happened to them as obese, especially if they’ve been repeatedly victimized, it becomes horrifyingly normal. And also some deaf women whose first language is BSL may not know the terminology in English. So they’re unlikely to know that they can get support or how to access it.
Another horrible barrier is that professionals might frame their abuse as a consequence of a person’s impairment, rather than as a manifestation of gender based violence. I’ve heard of a woman being told, well, he’s bound to get frustrated with you given all he has to do to help you as if that justifies being punished a longer waiting list for specialist support. So there were long enough waiting lists for any support. And so for specialist support, which is very limited, it can be impossibly long. There can just be offenses that are down at responses that are down with offensive. You do. If you leave him, you might not meet anyone else willing to date. You often. Also there are couples where both people are disabled, it’s surprisingly common and they act as informal carers for each other. It may be that one of them is able to do certain tasks and the other is able to do certain other tasks and they work it out together. But if you’re being abused by your partner who you want an informal carer for, it adds guilt to the potential of leaving. What if he can’t cope when I leave. And also many disabled people have been institutionalized, whether it’s specialists, boarding schools, boarding schools, or within institutions for adults, there’s still massive problems with institutionalization, especially for autistic people and learning disabled people. And if you’ve had that experience and hated it, which many people do you might resist anything formal, particularly going into a refuge that might feel like a shared institution.
Okay. There are big issues with reporting abuse or violence as well. The big one is being called an unreliable witness. I tried to report sexual violence and was told that that given that I develop mental health problems as a result of the assault, that would make me an unreliable witness in the eyes of the court. So there was no point proceeding basically. And I didn’t obviously, and that was from a specialist, sexual violence officer. This wasn’t like a Bobby on the beat who didn’t know any better. This is somebody who should have been better prepared.
We know that police often don’t believe victims, but police doubted the credibility of non-disabled victims in 17% of cases. But if a woman has severe mental illness, she was doubted in 37% of cases, which is more than a third, only 12% of police officers felt they had enough training in communicating with learning disabled people and nearly half of disabled survivors. He took part in a Welsh women’s aid survey said they were concerned because nothing happened to the perpetrator after they did report to the police. So I’ve laid out pretty horrifying state of affairs. So I think it’s good to look at what might help as well.
I mentioned easy to read documents, and this is what one looks like. We need to make information accessible in as many formats as we can. Sometimes that’s quite resource intensive, like getting a BSL interpreter for videos. A lot of organizations can’t afford that for instance, but it’s relatively easy to get somebody who can write easy read documents. It’s a skill I have. And I’m, you know, there are a number of us who can do it. So that’s what they look like. This is one about what consent means on the rights. We have brief explanation and on the left, a picture that illustrates what the right hand says. If you’re reading isn’t that great
Finalizations are funded to provide services for women. That means all women, not just the ones that are easy to provide services to in the same way that we accommodate coal communities by providing access to information in languages. Other than English, let’s provide access to information in languages that can be accessed by women with disabilities. So every police station should have a communication table, which is just people, which is just can be an iPhone laminated shape, which has I’ve been robbed. I’ve been raped. I need help ring, use my phone and ring, whoever really short, easy stuff that that’s, that’s not complicated.
Don’t let somebody visit your website and be greeted by this. Now I’m not picking on women’s aid or common of honor, both of which are brilliant organizations, but they’re also both prominent. And so I did just a search on each site for the word disabled and got nothing. And this is not what disabled women need. This may be the first thing they try. And then they think there’s nothing. There’s no help when there is it’s limited, but there’s some, so if you work at an organization like this, think about these things, okay, what else would help accessible provision? So accessible buildings that are physically accessible interpreters using techniques. If somebody is very scared or doesn’t have very much capacity to understand using techniques that make them feel more comfortable, whatever that looks like for them, I would argue that it’s vital, that more disabled people are recruited into survivor organizations, be that a refuge be that a rape crisis center. We need disabled women to be in there doing this work.
There needs to be better choices available for disabled women who do need care, whether that’s at home or an institution. We need professionals in both disability and survivor organizations to be well-trained in the intersecting issues, criminal justice professionals from the first person on the scene right down to the judge in a trial needs so much better training. And perhaps the most important point is that survivors need to be asked what they need. I know what would help me, but I can’t make that assumption for anybody else. And a non-disabled person. Certainly shouldn’t even try to make an assumption for what a disabled woman might need, okay.
To improve situation refuges that allow longest days for disabled women, excuse me, would help a lot because finding accessible housing is virtually impossible in many places. So disabled women may need a longer refuge stay than a non-disabled woman. And that needs to be provided for similarly, Keras needs to be allowed to go in and out. We can’t have a situation like that. Woman in America, who is told, if you can’t wash yourself, you can’t come in. It’s so easily solved trauma informed counseling needs to be more easily available counseling and any other form of therapy, including within the NHS and service users have to have a choice in who they see or in the form of therapy. They get, I know a woman who went to a therapy service, not within the NHS, a private therapy service and had an assessment during which she requested that if she went ahead with therapy, she requested a female therapist and the person who assessed her said the fact that you requested a female therapist suggests that you have issues with men. So we’re going to assign you a male therapist so you can get over that. Now, clearly that is outrageous. I think there’s a good argument for routine inquiries to be made to disabled women, to all women about whether they are at risk or whether they are experiencing some kind of abuse of violence. When you go to the GP, the hearing aid clinic, the midwife, the housing office, normalize having that conversation, if you can.
And there needs to be more survivor led training by disabled people within both disability organizations and survivors organizations. So what can you do? You can complain for the recipients of care, as well as the providers of it. You can signal boost campaigns on social media that inform about or support the work of relevant organizations. And again, don’t assume what somebody might need always ask
Her what can be done for these individuals. First of all, you have to know that it happened.
Well, I think a lot can be done. And I think, you know, going back to childhood, I think teaching children that they have mastery over their bodies, asking permission to touch people when we’re providing care to them, we’ll give them a sense that they have control. I think that teaching people about sexuality, we have this myth that people are not sexual when that’s not true. They have the same thing. You have the same feelings as everybody else. So being open about that, so they understand how to have a relationship and what good touches and what bad touches. I think that that as a system, we need to be vigilant our surveillance in detecting and acting quickly, making sure that people report it. And I think above all, helping self advocates, find their voice and have a voice and feeling their voice and have a voice and feeling empowered through training and support groups. So there we have to attack this problem from a lot of different angles. Nancy,
If you’re here because you work in a service like a rape crisis center or a women’s refuge or a general counseling service where you will no doubt get a lot of survivors attending, you can put measures in place. Now don’t wait for somebody with specialized needs to turn up and need your help before rushing to try and make things accessible. You can make information available on your website and in leaflet form that makes it clear that you welcome disabled service users, that you want to support them and meet their needs. Meet this explicit. People need to hear it directly. Also know where to refer on it, where appropriate it may be that you’re not the right people to help somebody, but don’t just say over the deaf counseling service, this is the website and wash your hands off them, do some research into how to make information accessible. There is a lot of available information online and do your best to do this. It’s easier than ever to add subtitles to things, add an image description to a photo and encourage any services you comment contact with to do the above.
And one of the key things is to look at the intersections people aren’t only a woman or only disabled or only LGBT. We’re often a combination of many marginalized groups and the more marginalized identities that are the intersect in a person’s life, the more vulnerable somebody is not only to abuse, but to not being taken seriously. As we’ve seen, even during my research for this presentation and for the videos I’ve shown white heterosexual, disabled women have been the most prevalent. There is little information available about any disabled women and gender based violence. But when you look at racial racialized, disabled women working class, disabled women, LGBT disabled women, there is even less
So some links and resources, and all of this is going is available on our website. So you don’t need to be scribbling things down frantically. I’ve made a list of some Sheffield resources that are not specific disabled women and girls, and some national resources in the, that are specific to disabled women and girls. So this information about finding emergency housing, especially support for learning disabled people or autistic people. There’s an easy read guide to force the marriage, that kind of thing, some really valuable resources. We are going to make the link there that you may want to write down now where you can download this presentation and where all of these videos are already available. You can write it down now, but also we’re going to send that link out in a up email. So don’t worry if you don’t get it. Now, we also, I’ve done this presentation once before and we created a WhatsApp group at the time for people who wanted to know more wanting to do more on this topic. And the link to that is there, or indeed it’s at the slash FOD for festival of debates. And you can also see there, my contact details, if you want to get in touch. Some people did after my previous presentation and I tried to signpost them if they needed further help also on the right is the contact details for the Sheffield branch of the women’s equality party who have organized this event.
And so do you have any questions? I’d be really interested to hear what it’s brought up for people. Do you have any thoughts on what you’ve heard? There’s absolutely no pressure to speak out, but if you want to, this is the time to do it. And can I just say I adore this photo? It makes me happy and I use it a lot because it makes me happy. I was just thinking the same thing. Yes. Love me. Yeah. Would anybody, sorry, I can’t see everybody, but do people want to either come off mute and shout or put your little yellow hand up if you’re being ignored because we can’t see it just come off, mute the channel,
Maybe pepper. If you stop sharing your screen, now we’ll be able to see lots of people.
Yeah. That’s that’s brilliant. Oh yeah. That’s great. Thank you. So, Maria, did you want to ask something or make a point?
Maria, are you there?
I think we can hear you don’t come off mute. Maria.
Maria is having tech issues. I’ll come back to you in a second. Okay. Should we speak to your staff, right? Hi. Yeah. I hope you can hear me Johnny. Good. I just wanted to say, firstly, thank you some really interesting things. I’m a student social worker at night, or I will be as of September, right? Thank you. And I think for me it was really eye opening because I thought, you know, you hear that we’ve come leaps and bounds. And then some of the statistics you were bringing out were pretty shocking. And I mean, I personally had been through, you know, lack of police support when report and assaults and stuff, but that was, you know, nearly 10 years ago now. And I thought we, we have to have been getting better at this. So I suppose it’s put fuel on my fire to do some things.
I know new castle doesn’t have a wet branch at the minute. So I’m going to look to set one of those up three months. That’s what we like to hear. That’s really awesome. This will be something that gets talked about. I think it’s great that as an almost students, social workers are interested and you’ve come along as exactly what I was going to say. Social workers are obviously, you know, the first point of contact for a lot of disabled people. And, and if, even if you just know where to signpost people to, or you’re, or you’re aware now of some of the forms of abuse that you might not have thought of otherwise, then sadly also, sadly, that you might not get taught as part of your social workforce. You know, we know sorts of not just areas like disability, but even things that, you know, that things, lots of other things about women like GPS can go through their entire training and not, not be taught anything about the metaphors.
For example, you know, we know that professionals that are dealing with, with women don’t get taught stuff about us. You know, we know that. So it’s really fantastic as a social worker, as a, as a future social worker, you’re already thinking about these things because you will be in an, in a really amazing position to, to, to be able to bring up these conversations in your course with your colleagues, you know, say, well, why don’t we get somebody to come in, talk to us about this? Or why don’t we have somebody do their dissertation on this issue? You know, that will then be a resource for other social workers to go look at. You know? So it’s really fantastic that, that, that you were already thinking about this stuff because a lot of people in your position wouldn’t be doing that. So yeah, definitely, really, really good. Really good.
Did you want to, have you smashed to sort out your she’s put a question, I think in the chat, I think that we will be able to get more resources to help aid those who are vulnerable. I’m working as an international development consultant. I’m head of welfare for a company that works with the UN on the 17 STG. I don’t know what that is using the development goals. There we are. And Maria is disabled under former survivor. I, I think things are improving. I think with every bit of new research, there may not be much of it, but those of us who are interested are grabbing onto it and paying attention.
And as more research is done, I think people can argue more effectively for more resources. I, I think it’s difficult. These are difficult times for any resourcing, any kind of work, any kind of service or any kind of service within a service such as hiring somebody to make your information accessible. It’s difficult to get funding for instance, for that kind of thing, but it does exist. And yeah, the goal is to get more resources and accessible ones. Yeah, absolutely. And often when resources exist, people are quite happy to share them. I’m sure that refuge wouldn’t object to women’s aid sharing, you know, some of their resources and that kind of thing. And I think especially with small local organizations, that’s even more the case. So I think if people collaborate like that, that’s brilliant and it helps with building accessible resources. And I like to think that the more of a speak up and the more of us are aware, the more we kind of have to force people to fund this stuff.
Yeah, I agree. Yeah. I agree. And Maria also what a cool job. Yes, definitely sounds really your job. Sounds really exciting. Yeah. I’d love, I’d love to hear some more about it actually. So maybe maybe get, get in touch with us at Sheffield. It sounds really, it sounds really interesting what, what you’re doing and you know, you know, I’d really love to hear some more about it. I think it’s, it sounds really exciting. And so, yeah. W does anybody else have anything, any points that they’d like to make or questions that they’ve got, if anybody doesn’t want to say something publicly, feel free to send a direct message to me or Charlotte or Isabel within the chat and we’d happily read the out without a name. Yeah, that’s absolutely fine. Please feel free to do that. I mean, one of the things, the really interesting things that I found or this time, because obviously I attended the last version that you did of this before, and I know we’ve kind of done it again, the festival of debate, but you’ve you’ve you have done it slightly differently.
Was the, I found it was really interesting. Well, the thing about language, because I was involved in the student movement in the nineties and because I’m that old and it was at that time when the language switched from being a disabled person to a person with disabilities, and that was seen as really progressive. And you know, that we weren’t saying that somebody was disabled, we weren’t labeling them as first. Then, you know, we were saying that they were person in that. I think the idea was that we were saying that they were a first and they had a disability, they happened to have a disability, but that they were still a person. And I can kind of understand what I can kind of understand what the thought behind that was, but I find it really interesting how, how the thought processes about language and about disability have moved on in the last totally 25 years.
But now we’ve gone back to using the language that we were using some of the language, not all the languages, negative language language, and for that. But I thought, I, I just, I find that really, really interesting. You’re absolutely right with your analysis, that the thought was, if you say person before disability, then that’s more empowering. And I get that. I think when you frame it as I’m disabled, but not by me, but by everything around me, it makes a lot more sense to say disabled person. But again, across the world in one of the videos, an American woman used the word handicap, which hasn’t been used here. I don’t think since the eighties gets a sharp intake of breath in any disabled circle here and it’s dying out in the states, thankfully, because it’s pretty horrible word, but it’s still used far more there than it is here.
And so there’s that know they were connotations. Is that the connotations of what we thought about disabled people? Yeah. And, and how they were viewed. And so, because handicaps was the word that we used about them at that time. And because our view of them was particularly a lot more negative than it is now that that language connects with that time. Doesn’t it. But yeah, I just find it really interesting. And, and I think it, one of the things that it says to me is that, that I find it, I think comforting is probably the wrong word, but I find it, I find it a positive thing that we continue to think about stuff and we continue to improve our understanding of things and not only of disability rights and disability issues, but all sorts of other things as well. Sometimes we’re in a period of history where it’s like, this is definitely the right thing, you know, and all the rest of it.
And it, in fact, it makes me always think of that episode of friends. If anybody here is a friends fan, but that episode of friends when Phoebe and Ross are having the argument about, about evolution. And he says, no, this is absolute fact. This is absolute fact. And she says, well, you know, about 20 years ago, you all thought the atom was the smallest thing. And then you burst open and all this crap fell out. Are you telling me that you’re so arrogant that you say that what you think now is the only truth and there can’t be any other way. And it’s, so I find it kind of comforting that we continue to, we continue to talk and we continue to, to improve our understanding of things. And, and that, that’s why the language changes and that store frame changes all the time as well.
If we look at people are understanding, yeah. If we look at the language around race, that’s changed. Unrecognizably in 10 years, similarly, there are ways to refer to LGBT people that were okay, 10 years ago that nobody would respectfully say now, yeah. Maria’s asked in the chat if COVID has caused a lot of issues. And I think it has on a number of levels. I think people have been, I think everybody has been more isolated than ever. I think disabled women in particular, even if they weren’t formally shielding, I think have often been more frightened of going out because of the potential extra harm that could be done to them if they caught it. So there’s been a lot more isolation, but also a lot of funding that would normally be made available across a range of sectors has been funneled into COVID specific stuff through necessity, of course. But it does make you wonder what’s not been funded. That would have been funded. If everything wasn’t going straight into COVID resources equally COVID for a lot of disabled people has made things a lot more accessible. We can attend a lot stuff because it’s online rather than having to go somewhere.
So, yeah. It’s, I think it’s had an impact in a, in a range of ways. Yeah. Isabel, you had a hand up from an egg. Did you want to ask something?
No, it was just to draw attention to the question in the chat.
Oh, thank you. Thank you. And Anna says yes. Social camp moratorium that were allowed last year during the first lockdown. Yes. In the law that the, I can’t remember the name of the law, but the government brought in new laws so that they could apply COVID restrictions. And in amongst that law was the right to not provide care for disabled people anymore. If you got care before you, you know, you might not get it, you might not have anyone to take you to the toilet. And what do you do then? Well, you know, you know what you do, you get incontinence pads, which work for some people and I’m not criticizing them, but if that’s not what you want, then that would feel like a very undignified thing. I wouldn’t like to have to replace going to the toilet with incontinence pads. And again, I’m not criticizing continence pads.
They are brilliant when they’re needed, but if they’re not needed except for a lack of resources, then it’s not a solution. No, no. Sean has asked the question in the chat. She’s just said, so thanks so much for this talk. What was she first says? And then she said, please, could you explain again, the preference with disabled over ableism? Yes. This again is a very disabling. Some is generally preferred amongst disability, activists in the UK ableism in the states. And I think Canada and certainly Australia is preferred there. The reason disabled is generally preferred is because it recognizes that what we are experiencing is discrimination on the grounds of disability. If you talk about Ava’s and then that’s discrimination on the grounds of ability, which doesn’t quite make sense because abilities fine it’s disability, which is the structural problem within society. That is the, that is the issue. The other problem with ableism is again, it’s the use of the word able, which is linked with able-bodied, which is an excluding, which is a term that includes some disabled people. If somebody has schizophrenia and consider themselves disabled, they could be referred to as disabled. And able-bodied because their bodies are fine.
And so it just gets of the idea that it’s about ability and replaces it with the problem being disability. I hope that made sense. Yeah. I hope that makes sense, Charlotte, for you, does anybody have anything, any other points or questions? Yes. Isabel says, yes, I have a hearing impairment, but it doesn’t affect me physically. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Yeah. You’re welcome. Lots of people saying thank you. And everybody’s really welcome. I’m glad to have an opportunity to be able to talk about one of my pet topics to people who care and are paying attention. And I really appreciate it, Kate. No problem that you have to go. Yeah. I think, I think we’re going to wrap up in a second anyway. Unless is anybody have any last minute comments there is Sandra. I wasn’t looking at the chat during the presentation.
So I may well have miss things. Sandra is an adult social worker working within disability services. She finds it frustrating how all the domestic violence training is linked to children’s services and not adults. Definitely. There is a, the Sandra will be well aware of the concept of, of vulnerable adults, which isn’t ideal terminology, but disabled people generally come under that terminology and vulnerable adults are supposed to be more protected by things like social services, but a lot of the resources aren’t quite there. This is a kind of tick box. This is a vulnerable adult thing, but very little there beyond that. And yes, also dementia and, and because of a lack of training that Sandra mentions, there’s a lack of awareness. And because there’s a lack of awareness, people don’t think to bring in extra provision because they don’t know that the issue is as big as the kids.
Yeah. Thank you, pepper. Thank you, Sandra, for that, that comment as well. Well, I’d just like to finish the session by saying thank you very much to everybody for coming. It’s really lovely to see. So many of you, I know it’s, I know it’s a challenging topic that we’ve been discussing and some of the things that we’ve heard from pepper, some of the statistics and the stories pretty hard hitting and, and quite difficult, quite difficult to hear. And I know this is the festival of debates that we’ve been doing this under that banner that we’ve been doing the session under. And I think the debate that really comes afterwards when we think about right, what do we do about all this? What do we do about all these things now? Because it’s one thing knowing about them all. And it’s another thing thinking, right, well, how are we going to try and how are we going to try and solve those things?
And I mean, obviously this session has been organized by the women’s equality party, which is a national political party with, with a brunch in Sheffield has about 60 branches across the country. And Sheffield is one of those branches. I think that this will be something that we hopefully we’ll be taking forward. We’ve kind of discussed it a bit after the last session that we did on this and talks about things that we might be able to do and political pressure that we might be able to make or other sessions that we might be able to run. So, you know, if you’re interested in doing that, please get in touch with us. You can go on our mailing list. We have a email that goes out every week about the stuff that we’re doing. We have branch meetings, every fortnight online, which means everybody can attend them.
So please get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you and thank you very much for, for coming this evening. And please take forward this issue in whatever way you can, either individually or within your own organizations that you’re working with. Or as I said, come and work with us as well, and we’ll see what difference we can make together collectively. But thank you very much and thank you very much to pepper for providing us with all that information and do join the WhatsApp group. If you want to know more or want to do more, you’ll get the link in the next few days. So it would be brilliant to see anybody who, who just, you know, once, once to do a bit more, it would be great to see you them. Yeah. And you’ll get sent the link to the, the, the recording of today’s presentation and all that stuff.
So you’ll, you’ll have all that, all that information, but thank you very, very much for coming. As I said, it’s great to see you on thank you again to the brilliant Pippa Willis. Willits who, as I said, I’m very, very happy is a member of the women’s equality party. I feel very proud and privileged to call her a, a WEP colleague and I hope friend as well. So thank you very much. Thank you. I’ll give you a rousing round thing about online. Isn’t it. We can’t give you a rousing round from the fields, but take care of everybody. Enjoy the rest of your week in the sunshine. If it continues. Thanks everybody. Bye.
Image credit: Disabled and Here