Violence against people with disability

Acts of violence can affect anyone. But some people, such as those with disability, may be especially vulnerable to experiencing violence.

In Australia, it is estimated that, at the time of the survey:

  • more than one-third (37%) of adults who have experienced at least 1 incident of violence after the age of 15 have disability
  • close to half (46%) who have experienced abuse before the age of 15 have disability.

Adults with disability are more likely to experience violence than those without disability. Of adults with disability (at the time of the survey), an estimated:

  • 1 in 2 (47% or 2.7 million) have experienced violence after the age of 15, compared with 1 in 3 (36% or 4.5 million) without disability
  • 1 in 5 (20% or 1.1 million) have experienced abuse before the age of 15, compared with 1 in 10 (11% or 1.3 million)
  • 1 in 17 (5.8% or 332,000) have experienced violence sometime in the last year, compared with 1 in 19 (5.2% or 656,000)
  • 3 in 4 (74% or 2.0 million) of those who experienced violence have experienced multiple incidents of violence, compared with 6 in 10 (62% or 2.8 million) adults without disability who experienced violence.

Adults with disability, especially those with severe or profound disability, are more likely than adults without disability to experience all types of violence:

  • 16% (935,000) of adults with disability have experienced sexual violence after the age of 15, compared with 9.6% (or 1.2 million) without disability
  • 43% (2.5 million) have experienced physical violence, compared with 32% (4.1 million) without disability
  • 21% (1.2 million) have experienced intimate partner violence, compared with 13% (1.7 million) without disability (Table 1 and Figure 1).

Table 1: Prevalence of violence after age 15(a), disability status (at the time of the survey), by type of violence, 2016

Type of violence

With disability

With disability—severe or profound

With disability—other disability status

Without disability

Sexual violence

16.3

24.0

15.2

9.6

Physical violence

43.1

43.9

43.0

32.1

Intimate partner violence

20.8

28.5

19.7

13.2

Total who experienced violence

47.0

48.8

46.7

35.9

(a) People aged 18 and over who experienced violence after age 15 (in last year or previously). Includes sexual violence and physical violence. Components may not add to total as people may experience multiple types of violence. A person who experienced sexual and physical violence is counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but only once in the aggregated total.

Source: ABS 2017; see also Table S3.

Women with disability report higher rates of sexual violence and intimate partner violence than their male counterparts. Men with disability report higher rates of physical violence (Figure 1). This is also the case for adults without disability, although the rates are generally higher for men and women with disability than without:

  • 1 in 4 (25%) women with disability have experienced sexual violence after the age of 15, compared with 15% without disability
  • 1 in 14 (6.6%) men with disability have experienced sexual violence after the age of 15, compared with 3.9% without disability
  • 1 in 3 (40%) women with disability have experienced physical violence after the age of 15, compared with 26% without disability
  • 1 in 2 (47%) men with disability have experienced physical violence after the age of 15, compared with 38% without disability
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Some people with disability—such as those with psychological or intellectual disability—are more likely to have experienced violence (Figure 2). Of adults with disability, the most likely to have experienced violence after the age of 15 have:

  • psychological disability (65%)
  • intellectual disability (62%)
  • head injury, stroke or brain damage (60%).

This is almost double the rate of those without disability (36%).

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Where can I find out more?

Detailed data tables are available at Data.

Information on:

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2017. Microdata: Personal safety, Australia, 2016. ABS cat. no. 4906.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. AIHW analysis of detailed microdata in DataLab.

Alternative text for Violence against people with disability

Figure 1

Column chart showing prevalence of violence for men, women and all adults, with and without disability. The reader can select to display the chart by type of violence, including intimate partner, physical, sexual and all types of violence, and by disability status. The chart shows women with severe or profound disability are more likely (36%) to experience intimate partner violence than women without disability (20%). Back to figure 1

Figure 2

Stacked column chart showing prevalence of violence for adults with five groups of disability, including head injury, stroke, or brain damage, intellectual, physical, psychological and sight, hearing or speech disability. The reader can select to display the chart by type of violence, including intimate partner, physical, sexual and all types of violence. The chart shows adults with psychological disability are more likely (35%) to experience sexual violence than adults with sight, hearing or speech disability (13%). Back to figure 2