How people with disabilities experience programs to prevent intimate partner violence across four countries.

Peer-reviewed article
(2020 Apr) Eval Program Plann, 79 101770


Stern E, van der Heijden I, Dunkle K


Women with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence, including intimate partner violence (IPV), yet the majority of emerging IPV prevention programs fail to explicitly consider the needs of participants with disabilities. Women and men living with disabilities engaged with IPV prevention programs in four countries were interviewed to explore how disability shaped their experiences of gender, violence, IPV, and whether the programs met their disability related needs. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 women and 15 men living with disabilities in Ghana, Rwanda, Tajikistan and South Africa. The data were analysed thematically and compared across the settings. Participants described experiencing disability-related stigma, discrimination, exclusion, and for women, increased vulnerability to IPV. Barriers to full participation in programs included limited accessibility, and lack of disability-specific materials, recruitment or outreach. Enablers of inclusion included recruitment and monitoring strategies aimed at people with disabilities, partnering with a local disabled people's organization, training staff in disability inclusion, and raising awareness of disability rights. The data encouragingly suggests that inclusion of women and men with disabilities in IPV prevention programs designed for the general population has beneficial outcomes. Inclusion can prevent violence, promote their wellbeing, support economic empowerment, and challenge disability-related stigma and discrimination.