I am a woman with a disability

I feel that the people in my life who care for and support me do not treat me with respect and dignity.
My basic needs and rights are sometimes withheld from me until I satisfy certain demands.
I am afraid to ask for things that I need.

You are not alone
Women with disabilities are more likely to experience domestic violence. Often women with disabilities rely on their abuser to provide them with their basic needs. They can be prevented from speaking out by fear and service gaps in disability and women’s agencies.

Does this sound familiar?
Does your partner, support worker, friend:

  • Take away your control of your disability aids such as moving your wheelchair around.
  • Damage or threaten to damage your belongings
  • Refuse to wash or feed you or to hand over medications.
  • Act in cruel ways
  • Refuse to offer help until you consent to sex.
  • Withhold information or make decisions on your behalf without your consent.
  • Take control of your finances without consent, including withholding money?

This is domestic violence and it is never acceptable.

It is really hard to seek support to end or leave an abusive relationship. As a woman with a disability you might think that:

  • It’s my fault, and I deserve to be treated this way
  • I’ve always been treated this way for as long as I can remember
  • It’s not that bad as he/she does help me out a lot and I couldn’t get by without him/her – I have nowhere else to go and no one else to help.
  • If I say something I’ll have to leave my home and go into an institution as I’ve been told no one else can look after me.
  • I’ve asked for help before and nothing happened or no one seemed to believe me or take me seriously. Those that did said that their service couldn’t help me.

Domestic violence is wrong!

Domestic violence does not go away on its own and will have an impact on your life and any children you may have. You have the right to be safe and so do your children. To find out more about domestic violence click here.

Adapted from Better Health, State Government of Victoria, 2013 http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/domestic_violence_and_women_with_disabilities)


What can I do?
If you are experiencing domestic violence you can talk to someone for support or information. Domestic violence support workers are trained to understand what might be happening for you and services that can help.

Call if you need to talk to someone about domestic or family violence:

  • 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
    24 hour service
  • Southern Adelaide Domestic Violence Service
    (08) 8382 0066
    Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm
  • Ninko Kurtangga Patpangga
    (08) 8297 9644
    Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm

If you have a communication issue you can access ‘Speak and Listen Relay Service’. Call 1300 555 727 and then give the number you’d like to call. The relay officer will dial the number and will assist only when the other person on the end of the line cannot understand your speech. For more information, see http://relayservice.gov.au/making-a-call/speak-and-listen/
You can also ask for help from your GP, Centrelink social worker or any other place you trust such as a Community Centre or Children’s Centre. Click here for information on people who can help.
If you want to leave a situation of domestic or family violence and have nowhere to go you can contact DV Gateway 1800 800 098. The Gateway will offer support, assess your situation and work with you to find alternative accommodation in a safe area. If you are ringing after 5pm or on the weekend you will reach the Homelessness Gateway and you need to say that you are experiencing domestic violence and you are not safe in your home. They will help you get the help you need. Contact the police for help and protection for yourself and your children to remove the person using violence or leave a situation.


Services for me
There is help available for you from people who are trained to understand and support women with disabilities leave or end situations of domestic violence. 

These services are set up to be discreet and to listen to you and support you to get what you need to be safe.
People with Disability Australia Incorporated
Phone: 02 9370 3100
Free call: 1800 422 015
TTY: 02 9318 2138 TTY
free call: 1800 422 016
Email: pwd@pwd.org.au
Website: www.pwd.org.au

Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline
Free call: 1800 880 052

National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service (Australia)
Phone: 1800 737 732 – free telephone counselling hotline (24 hours, 7 days) to chat with someone over the phone anytime.

1800 RESPECT is a service you can call or you can visit their website at


What about my children?
If you have children in your care they need to be safe too. Domestic violence has a significant impact on children of all ages, whether they witness the actual violence or not. For information on children and violence click here, and on the legal rights for you and your children click here.

For advice on how to manage the legal and financial impacts of leaving a violent relationship and to find out more about your rights and where you can get help here.