Prevalence of interpersonal violence against community-living adults with disabilities: a literature review

Rehabil Psychol. 2011 Nov;56(4):302-19. doi: 10.1037/a0025620.


Objective: To review the empirical literature on the prevalence of interpersonal violence (IPV) against people with disabilities.

Method: The authors searched for, obtained, and reviewed 6,000 abstracts published between January, 2000 and August, 2010 via searches in PsycINFO and PubMed. Subsequently, 177 potentially applicable full-text articles were independently assessed for inclusion; 22 articles describing 21 individual studies were included in this review.

Results: The prevalence of IPV varied depending on the time frame, the definition and type of violence, perpetrator, and disability. Prevalence of any type of IPV among women with disabilities ranged from 26.0%-90.0% for lifetime; 4.9%-29.1% for the past 5 years; and 2.0%-70.0% for the past year. In some studies, when compared to women without disabilities, women with disabilities experienced more lifetime, 5 year, and past year physical and sexual IPV. Prevalence of any IPV in men with disabilities ranged from 28.7%-86.7% for lifetime; 24.9% for the past 5 years; and 36.7% for the past year.

Conclusions/implications: IPV occurs at elevated and disproportionate rates among women and men with disabilities, especially when assessed over the course of their lives. Future research that relies on standard definitions of disability and violence, uses accessible measurement, and examines IPV in diverse populations of people with disabilities will strengthen future reviews and better inform research and policy priorities on disability and violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*