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Violence against people with disabilities

People with disabilities fall victim to the same crimes as people with no disabilities, and the disability does not protect people from crimes.  People with disabilities also experience discrimination and bullying due to their disability. Read more: Discrimination

This page discusses the violence experienced by people with disabilities. People with disabilities, especially women, elderly, and children, have a higher risk of facing violence than people without disabilities.

In addition to other forms of violence, people with disabilities can face special forms of violence. The violence can be related to the disability, the care or lack of care of the disability. Such situations are, for example:

  • The person can be left in an unsafe condition without help.
  • The care and attention of the person is neglected.
  • The person is threatened with ending up in an institution.
  • Aids are taken away or being damaged.
  • Medication is changed.
  • The person is being diminished, overprotected, and restricted.
  • Violence against the disability.

The violence can appear in different ways depending on the disability.

Both women and men with disabilities experience violence, domestic violence, and abuse. In Finland, the risk for a woman with disabilities is estimated to be 2-4 times higher than for women without disabilities. They also experience more sexual violence.

Support from other people

The physical contact and closeness related to the help can increase the risk of violence and exploitation.  A person with disabilities can be either financially or psychologically dependent on the perpetrator. The perpetrator is often a close person, such as the spouse, a relative or a professional.

The violence often takes place in private places, such as at home or in nursing homes, and can be more easily hidden. If the person with disabilities is dependent on the assistant, he or she does not necessarily tell anyone about the violence he or she is subjected to by the assistant or the close ones.

It is very important that the abuse and violence against people with disabilities is identified. As the victim often is unable to get help or even tell anyone about it, the people close to the victim and professionals that work with the victim, for example professionals in housing service, service for the disabled, transportation service and healthcare service, have an important role in detecting and identifying signs of violence. Physical marks and injuries, psychological symptoms, depression or other deviant and changed behavior should give rise to concern that the person has been treated badly.

If you have fallen victim to a crime

People with disabilities find it difficult to seek and get help for experiences of violence. The challenges of seeking help can, for example, depend on insufficient services, obstacles in the environment or constant control of the perpetrator.

If you suspect that you or a close one has fallen victim to a crime, you must tell a trusted person or contact the police directly. Everyone is welcome to the Victim Support Finland’s services.

If you hesitate to file a report of an offence, you can get help from Victim Support Finland and ask for a support person who can, for example, come with you to file the report or for the interrogation. It is also possible to use an interpreter if necessary, when dealing with authorities.

You can find the easy-to-read guides here: LINK TO THE GUIDES

Other support services: Nollalinja, Crisis Helpline, Women’s Line and The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters

Read more

Sources: Frequency of domestic violence experienced by persons with disabilities and availability of services. A quantitative and qualitative examination. Publications of the Government´s analysis, assessment and research activities 2022:24 (in Finnish)  |  Criminal Procedure Act. (ROL) Chapter 6 a, section 2.  |  Criminal Investigation Act, Chapter 4, section 12  |  Selvitys vammaisten henkilöiden kokemasta syrjinnästä arjessa (in Finnish)