DRW joins forces to combat domestic violence, sexual assault
Disability Rights Washington, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Abused Deaf Women's Services, and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence have formed a coalition to improve domestic violence and sexual assault services for people with disabilities. The name of this coalition, which began in 1999, is the disAbility Advocacy Project.
What does the disAbility Advocacy Project do?
When people with disabilities are abused or hurt, they often don't get the help they need from domestic violence and sexual assault advocates. The disAbility Advocacy Project wants to change that.
Domestic violence and sexual assault advocates know a lot about how violence affects people. They are also good at helping someone who has been abused explore all their options. But they have not always done a good job understanding what it is like to live with a disability. They do not always know what a person with a disability needs in order to use their services.
There are many advocates for people with disabilities who know a lot about having a disability, and how to make their organizations accessible. But they have not always done a good job of understanding what happens when a person with a disability is abused. Sometimes they don't know who to talk to about violence against people with disabilities.
People with disabilities know what they need to access services. A lot of people with disabilities have experienced abuse, and know how it affects their lives.
Getting people together, sharing knowledge
The disAbility Advocacy Project wants to bring all these people together to share what they know. Disability advocates can learn about ways to respond to violence. Domestic violence and sexual assault advocates can learn about living with a disability. People with disabilities can tell advocates what works and what doesn't.
Domestic violence and sexual assault advocates believe that a person who has been hurt has the right to make their own decisions about what happens to them. Disability advocates believe that people have a right to self-determination, too. That is one of the reasons that the disAbility Advocacy Project is hopeful that these two types of advocates can work together to make their services accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities.
Three communities across the state have been selected to bring advocates and people with disabilities together. In Tacoma, Spokane and Pullman, advocates will meet and talk about how they can do a better job. There are some complicated issues they have to talk about; but by working together people with disabilities will have more choices and more accessible services.