The psychological consequences of violence against people with disabilities

Disabil Health J. 2018 Jul;11(3):390-397. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2018.01.006. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


Background: People with disabilities experience mental health disparities and higher rates of violence compared to people without disabilities. Few studies have examined the psychological consequences of violence against people with disabilities, and whether they differ from those experienced by people without disabilities.

Objective: This study compared psychological consequences of violence among men and women with and without disabilities.

Methods: We analyzed data from the 2008-2014 waves of the National Crime Victimization Survey. Multiple logistic regressions were estimated to compare the psychological impact of violent crime on respondents without disabilities to those with disabilities, who comprised roughly 20% of the sample (n = 8,070). We stratified by gender to compare the effects of violence experienced by men and women.

Results: Men with disabilities were more likely than men without disabilities to report severe distress (AOR = 2.07, p < 0.001), anxiety (1.79, p < 0.001), depression (2.32, p < 0.001), and anxiety and depression (2.34; p < 0.001), but were less likely to experience each outcome compared to women with disabilities. Men with disabilities had similar odds of adverse psychological outcomes compared to women without disabilities. Women with disabilities had higher odds of severe distress following violence compared to men without disabilities (3.90, p < 0.001) or women without disabilities (1.86, p < 0.001). Similarly, women with disabilities had higher odds of anxiety, depression, and anxiety and depression compared to men and women without disabilities.

Conclusions: Women with disabilities are at higher risk of negative psychological consequences resulting from violence compared to other gender-disability groups. Men with disabilities also experience worse outcomes relative to men without disabilities.

Keywords: Disability; Gender; Mental health; Violence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Violence / psychology*