For Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week we are amplifying disabled survivors voices on our blog. This post is written by one of our founders, Alice, who is a disabled survivor.
Content note: this post is about the impact that lack of support has on disabled survivors.
“Often it isn’t the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after.” ― S. Kelley
This quote is one of my favourites because it reminds us just how important support is after experiencing abuse and sexual violence.
In my work at Disabled Survivors Unite I have heard a countless amount of testimonies from disabled survivors, and the theme that runs throughout them all is the devastating impact of being unsupported. It is also a theme that I have experienced throughout my life.
Many disabled people we hear from have not gotten the support they need, whether that be therapy or emergency accommodation, simply because it was not made accessible to them. In their time of need, they are turned away.
Others are forced to have inaccessible support which is harmful to their health and wellbeing. It is crucial that we recognise the detrimental effect this can have on a persons life.
Some disabled survivors speak out about what has happened to them, but their stories are ignored or dismissed because of their disability. Others are blamed for the abuse they have endured, or are told that their disability was the cause.
With government cuts affecting the vast majority of front line services, it can sometimes be hard to see hope for disabled survivors. Many services simply cannot afford to make adaptions to their buildings or redesign what they offer, they are already struggling to operate on their budgets.
But I do see hope, Disabled Survivors Unite are changing things. The services we consult with are keen to support disabled people, and we have shown them how they can be inclusive without the expense of having to renovate their building.
The message that we give to services is this – no matter what, welcome disabled survivors with open arms. Invite us to use your service, ask us what we need, make adjustments, provide alternatives, and help us to find somewhere that can support us if you cannot.
Being given the opportunity and ability to access support really is vital. It can help a victim become a survivor. And without it, we suffer.
If you would like to work with us to improve your service, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a disabled survivor who would like support, or help to find accessible support in your area, please click here.