Introduction: Little is known about the characteristics of women with disabilities who have experienced abuse and their satisfaction with care received from specialized healthcare providers working in hospital-based violence services.
Method: To address this gap, we surveyed clients presenting to 30 sexual assault/domestic violence treatment centers (SA/DVTCs) in Ontario.
Results: Of the 920 women aged 12 years or older who completed a survey, 194 (21%) reported having a disability. Bivariate analyses revealed that women with a disability who experienced abuse were more likely than those without a disability to be older, separated, widowed or divorced, and unemployed; to live alone or to be homeless or living in a shelter; and to report less support from family and friends or colleagues. Women with disabilities were less likely to have been assaulted by acquaintances known for < 24 hours, to be students, and to have been accompanied to the SA/DVTC by another person. Women with disabilities were also more likely than those without disabilities to sustain physical injuries in the assault. Despite these significant differences, almost all women with disabilities rated the care received as excellent or good (97%) and reported that they received the care needed (98%); were able to choose the preferred care (95%); felt safe during the visit (96%); and were treated sensitively (97%), respectfully (96%), and in a nonjudgmental manner (96%). Furthermore, 96% stated that they would recommend the services to others.
Conclusion: Women with disabilities were overwhelmingly satisfied with SA/DVTC services. However, given their distinct vulnerabilities and increased risk of being injured, attending health providers should receive training relevant to working with this population.