Interpersonal violence against people with disabilities: Additional concerns and considerations in the COVID-19 pandemic

Rehabil Psychol. 2020 Aug;65(3):199-205. doi: 10.1037/rep0000347.


Objective/Purpose: The objective of this article is to provide information about the ways in which the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may affect the ongoing public health issue of violence against people with disabilities and how rehabilitation psychologists and other providers can address these concerns in their practice.

Method: This article reviews the literature on violence against people with disabilities as well as emerging literature on the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and medical consequences.

Results: The COVID-19 pandemic magnifies existing issues and barriers facing people with disabilities who are experiencing interpersonal violence. These issues include reliance on the perpetrator for care and assistance, barriers to reporting abuse and seeking help, fear of retaliation and other negative consequences if abuse is reported, emotional abuse related to disability, and exacerbation of secondary physical and mental health sequalae of abuse.

Conclusions/implications: The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences enhance the already increased risk for abuse among people with disabilities. Providers who work with individuals with disabilities should address these issues at both the individual client and systems levels. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*