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Safety Issues for Survivors with Disabilities

Please refer to the section on safety planning under domestic violence 101. In addition to what is mentioned there, survivors with disabilities may want to also consider the following:

Develop a code word and practice with your children. Make sure you practice your safety plan with your children and make sure they memorize TTY/telephone numbers to call for safety. This can include developing a code word or signal with your children or with someone you trust so they know when to get help.

Get support and talk to someone about your situation. Talking to someone about your situation may help you feel less isolated. Perhaps a trusted friend, a domestic violence advocate or maybe attending a support group that is sensitive to your needs may help you strategize what you want to do next or maintain your safety. Talking to other survivors may also help you feel you are not alone.

Learn about technology safety and functions of other necessary equipment that may assist you. A batterer may be able to retrieve conversations you have via email, including checking the websites you’ve visited and perhaps they may know your email address and password. You may want to create a new email and password. The abuser may also know how to use the memory functions of your TTY and pager and retrieve conversations that way. You may want to hide your TTY and pager if you are strategizing to leave and talk with an advocate that specifically addresses internet or technology safety to keep safe.

Call 911. Make sure you memorize telephone numbers you may need, including shelter numbers and numbers of trusted friends. If you are in danger, dial 911 immediately if you can. You can also use your cell phone to dial 911 but note that they will not be able to trace the call and find your location without having to speak with you. If you are using a landline, just dial 911 with your phone or TTY and leave the phone on the table. The police will be notified.

Sample Safety Planning Questions

The following is a list of sample safety planning questions taken by The Model Safety Planning Protocol to help determine a survivor’s safety:

  • How does your abuser react to your disability in private?
  • What does your abuser tell others about your disability?
  • Do you have any concerns about how your disability might affect our safety?
  • Do the effects of our disability change? If so, what causes the change?
    • Can you predict when changes will happen?
    • How does it affect your safety?
  • Does your abuser do things that make your disability worse?
  • Does your abuser do things that take advantage of your disability?
  • Does your abuser do things that take away your independence?
  • Do you have any thoughts about using DV/SA programs or other community resources?
  • What is your abuser’s involvement with your personal care or disability support service?
  • Has anyone manipulated your medications? Or refused to give them to you?
  • What are your ideas for dealing with [identified barrier to service]?
  • Is there any equipment, medications, or other kinds of technology that help you stay safe?
  • Does your abuser interfere with your use of [items needed for safety]?

Additional Safety Planning Suggestions for Survivors with Disabilities

Safety Planning: A Guide for Individuals with Physical Disabilities

Disability Safety Plan


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