Article Text

Download PDFPDF
National study of physical and sexual assault among women with disabilities


Objective: To examine the association between the level of disability impairment and physical and sexual assault in a sample of US women at least 18 years of age.

Design, setting and participants: Retrospective longitudinal study of 6273 non-institutionalized US women from 8000 women participating in the 1995–1996 National Violence Against Women (NVAW) Survey.

Main outcome measure: Women’s experiences of physical and sexual assault in the 12 months before the NVAW interview.

Results: Most women reported having no disability (n = 5008, 79.8%) and/or not experiencing an assault in the year before their interview (n = 6018, 95.9%). Less than 5% (n = 280) reported having a disability that severely limited daily activities, and 15.7% (n = 985) reported having a disability that moderately limited activities. Less than 4% (n = 218) of the women reported a physical-only assault, and less than 1% (n = 37) reported being sexually assaulted. Women with severe disability impairments were four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women with no reported disabilities (RR = 4.0, 95% CI 1.5 to 10.6). Little difference in the risk of sexual assault was found between women with moderate disability impairments and those reporting no disabilities (RR = 1.0, 95% CI 0.3 to 2.8). Women with severe (RR = 1.6, 95% CI 0.9 to 3.0) and moderate (RR = 1.2, 95% CI 0.8 to 1.9) disability impairments were at greater risk, although not quite significantly so, of physical-only assault than were women without a disability.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that women with disabilities that severely limit activities of daily living are at increased risk of sexual assault.

View Full Text

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.