6 responses to “Disability and Domestic Violence Apologism”

  1. Eva

    Let people have paid aides. That will provide the violent partner with fewer excuses for his violence and give the victim a better chance to act against it. Last, but by no means least, it will kill the apologist argument that care-giving is so hard.

  2. Samia

    Thanks for this post. I can’t believe this woman’s prosecutor betrayed her like that. “Cheek?” What is this, the 50’s? Ugh.

  3. Katherine

    Thanks for posting this. I’m trying to get better about equal rights issues and this post made me aware of another horrible ingrained belief I have.

  4. KJ

    Eva, I agree- paid aides are huge part of the solution. Unfortunately, with the way many governmental systems are set up, those aides are likely to be poor women of color who are paid very little. Often, in my experience, caregivers themselves often become disabled because of the nature of care giving activities (lifting, for example, can have long-term health consequences). Technology and money are needed as well as aides. There are many technologies that can help PWD. And aides should be well-paid and well-trained on how to avoid injuries.

    As a PWD who has worked as a caregiver, I have to say, there are no easy solutions. Many caregivers where I live are immigrants (some are undocumented). Many are working under the table. Most are female. Most have not had the chance to go to college. For caregivers, there is little chance of advancement or of earning a higher wage. These inequalities also need to be addressed when we talk about care work.

  5. Amy

    Thanks for writing this article. It’s a real eye opener and very sad.

    The narrative of how terribly hard it must be for the caregiver (while ignoring how hard it is for the person with disabilities) is a common one and I’d bet that most PWD have experienced it in a more watered down form. When I first became ill with my chronic medical conditions, I experienced certain attitudes from my own family – they became angry at me when I couldn’t do things, told me it was all in my mind, and frequently lamented how hard it was *for them* that I was ill. Fortunately once I moved out things got better, and now I have a decent relationship with them and a fantastic partner who I live with and who has always had a mature and compassionate attitude towards caring for me and my disabilities. Which is how it should be. But the fact that these attitudes clearly abound in many forms must influence how cases of caregiver abuse are handled.

    I think the carer narrative is somewhat gendered as well… in my experience people assume life must be harder for male carers than female carers. Someone once called my male partner ‘a saint’ and I felt like saying, no, he’s just behaving in the way human beings do when they love someone, and I’d do the same for him. But in our society, women are the carers – it is seen as normal and natural and by-the-way for a woman to give part or all of her life up to care for a man (disabled or not!), and a huge self-sacrifice that some struggle to understand when a man does the same for a woman. And of course it is understandable that a man finds it ‘hard’ – he’s not built for caring! He should be out driving motors and playing football and being the breadwinner! It’s ‘natural’ that he would get angry and lash out when he’s in such an unnatural situation! Or so our society would have us believe.

    But it’s not ‘natural’ for a man (or for a woman) to get angry and lash out at their disabled partner. It’s hateful and mean and abusive. Caring is not any easier or more ‘normal’ for female carers than it is for male carers, people who care for someone compassionately and maturely are not ‘saints’, and if someone is not beating up their disabled partner this doesn’t mean that they are not finding life hard. It’s because they’re not an abuser.

  6. susietoon

    Hey, thanks for bringing these cases to a wider audience..
    Some other problems in England for disabled women include the lack of access to mainstream refuges. Having social care services involved in wife battering cases means women fear be seen as unfit parents and have their children removed.
    Your post also points out a common problem; often, disabled women are moved miles out of their area or community because there is so little accessible housing if they have been attacked, where non-disabled women would not be penalised in this way.
    Several times, disabled women aren’t seen as credible witnesses by Police, so cases aren’t even resulting in arrest (just because the ‘officer’ can’t understand their speech or make questions accessible in the way they need).
    That the violence is natural because of pressure on carers is pervasive – it’s time ‘care’ and ‘justice’ services learned that disabled women deserve to be seen as at risk of battery because they are isolated and not inherently ‘vulnerable’ as we are located in state policy and practice. The assessment of ‘risk’ is another victory of the women’s movement that disabled women just don’t yet share.