Doors to Safety Project

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Doors to Safety Project

The weight of evidence consistently points to women with disabilities being subjected to higher rates of both physical and sexual abuse from both those closest to them and strangers, when compared with other women.[1] Women with disabilities experience all forms of violence and abuse as other women experience. Compounding this experience, women with disabilities face specific forms of violence and abuse related to their impairment.[2] Currently, women with disabilities have considerably fewer pathways to safety and experience complex barriers.

It has been argued that despite the public health approach to understanding disability and a rights based approach to promoting equality to prevent violence against women, to date there has been little attention paid to the intersection of the two fields of disability and violence.[3]It is essential that the perspectives of women with lived experience increasingly inform service responses. This means working directly with women with disabilities to identify their strategies, hopes and aspirations for responding to violence and abuse, and for promoting personal safety.[4] To improve identification of, and responses to, women with disabilities who experience violence, regardless of where they live in the community, it is critical to give attention to gender and disability and other layers of disadvantage when analysing, preventing and responding to violence.

The objectives of the Doors to Safety Project include to:

  • Raise awareness of the issue of violence against women and girls with disabilities in the community and amongst service providers
  • Foster appropriate community and service provider responses to women with disabilities experiencing violence
  • Begin to build pathways to safety for women with disabilities experiencing violence
  • Develop and pilot a peer education session that assists women with disabilities to identify and recognise violence in their lives as unacceptable and a crime 

If you would like to know more about this project and how you can be involved please contact Zel at email address


[1] Plummer, S.-B., & Findley, P. A. (2012). Women with disabilities’ experience with physical and sexual abuse: Review of the literature and implications for the field. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 13(1), 15-29.
[2] Harpur, P., & Douglas, H. (2014). Disability and domestic violence: Protecting survivors’ human rights. Griffith Law Review, 23(3), 405-433.
[3] Mikton, C., Maguire, H., & Shakespeare, T. (2014). A systematic review of the effectiveness of   interventions to prevent and respond to violence against persons with disabilities. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(17), 3207-3226.
[4] Powers, L. E., & M. Oschwald. (2004). Violence against people with disabilities: Experiences, barriers and prevention strategies. Portland, USA: Oregon Institute on Disability and Development, Oregon Health and Science University. Frawley, P., Stokoe, L., Slattery, J., Houghton, D., & O’Shea, A. (2012). Living safer sexual lives: Respectful relationships. Peer educator and co-facilitator manual. Melbourne: LaTrobe University.Robinson, S. (2014). Safe at home?: Factors influencing the safety strategies used by people with intellectual disability. Scandinavian Journal of Intellectual Disability, 16(2), 141– 158.