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Victims with Disabilities

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Who are victims with disabilities?

This section is devoted to information and resources to help victims of crime with physical and/or mental disabilities. Finding adequate advocacy for victims of crime is a challenge in itself, but finding an advocate that has the proper knowledge and training to meet the needs of a victim of crime with disabilities is an even greater challenge. To make matters even more complex, available research suggests that people living with disabilities are more likely to be victims of crime. This section is aimed to address some of the frequent challenges disabled victims of crime face, as well as to provide references to resources that can help those experiencing more specific issues.

Victims of crime with disabilities can include people of all ages, societal, educational and economic backgrounds. 

The Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”) defines disability in three ways:

  1. “A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one of more of the major life activities of such an individual;
  2. A record of such an impairment; or
  3. Being regarded as having such an impairment”

 

Obstacles victims with disabilities face...

 

Common myths about victims with disabilities...

The following three myths contribute to stereotyping which often results in discrimination against people with disabilities:

The first myth is the perception that people with disabilities are "suffering." Rather than extending legal rights and protections, as with other oppressed groups, a societal response prior to passage of the ADA typically was to extend "charity." Being kind to a person with a disability is not an acceptable substitute for the provision of civil rights protections.

The second myth is that people with disabilities lack the ability to make choices or determine for themselves what is best for them in all spheres of life (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, political, sexual, and financial). Although individuals with severe cognitive impairments may need greater support and advocacy services, this does not impede their ability or preclude their right to participate actively in decisions affecting their lives.

The third myth, according to crime victim advocates, is that many people in society fear contact with crime victims generally, as though their distresses are contagious. An even stronger stigma attaches to people with disabilities. Our society is not socialized to integrate differences in abilities as a part of our perception of "normality." The cultural norms for functioning include good hearing and vision, physical independence and mobility, mental alertness, the ability to communicate primarily through the written and spoken word, and physical attractiveness. Deviations from those norms tend to frighten those in the "able-bodied majority" who define the concept of normal abilities. When the two forces of stigma are joinedC victimization and disability attitudinal barriers to providing healing and justice can seem even more formidable.

Until recently, the crime victims' movement has not worked systematically to identify issues and challenges involved in responding more effectively to victims with disabilities. Improving service delivery to people with disabilities must become a priority because the crime victims' rights movement is founded on the premise that every crime victim deserves fundamental justice and comprehensive, quality services.

 

Resources for victims with disabilities

Go to the www.1800VICTIMS.org homepage or call us at 1-800-VICTIMS (1-800-842-8467) to find resources in your county including Victim Assistance Centers and local law enforcement agencies.

 

You may be eligible for compensation…

The California Victim Compensation Program may be able to help victims who were injured or threatened with physical injury as the result of an attack. See the following link to find out if you are eligible to apply for compensation:
http://www.vcgcb.ca.gov/victims/faq/eligibility.aspx


or contact the California Victim Compensation Program:
Phone: 1-800-777-9229
Web: http://www.vcgcb.ca.gov

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