Adults with disabilities are significantly more likely to be victims of violence than those who are typically developing, according to a new global analysis.
Those with disabilities experience physical or sexual attacks at one-and-a-half times the rate of their typically developing peers. Meanwhile, individuals with mental illness face a four times greater risk than the general population.
The findings come from a report published online Tuesday in the journal The Lancet that reviewed 26 studies examining the experiences of 21,500 people with physical and mental disabilities from seven countries — the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Overall, the analysis indicated that about 3 percent of individuals with physical, mental, emotional or health difficulties were victims of violence in the last year. But the rate was double — 6 percent — for those with intellectual disabilities.
And the risk is likely to be even higher than the analysis suggests, according to those behind the report.
“Lifetime exposure to violence, and the proportions of individuals with disability who are directly threatened with violence or otherwise live in fear of becoming a victim, are likely to be substantially higher than our estimate,” said Mark Bellis of Liverpool John Moores University in England, who led the study.
The researchers behind the report said further data is needed to better understand the true problem facing those with disabilities worldwide, particularly in low and middle-income countries.