Helping women with disabilities and domestic violence: strategies, limitations, and challenges of domestic violence programs and services.

Purpose: To describe the types of services provided to women with disabilities at community-based domestic violence programs in the state of North Carolina, the challenges faced, and strategies used to provide the services.

Methods: We conducted a statewide cross-sectional survey of community domestic violence programs and had a response rate of 85%.

Results: Of the participating programs, 99% provided services to at least one woman with a physical or mental disability in the preceding 12 months; 85% offered shelter services to women with physical or mental disabilities. Most respondents (94%-99%) reported that their programs were either somewhat able or very able to provide effective services and care to women with disabilities. The respondents also described challenges to serving women with disabilities, including lack of funding, lack of training, and structural limitations of service facilities. Strategies used by the programs to overcome these challenges were networking and coordinating care with organizations that specifically serve disabled populations.

Conclusion: Domestic violence programs in North Carolina provide services to women with disabilities but are faced with challenges stemming from limited funding, physical space, and training. Collaborations between domestic violence and disability service providers are necessary to improving the services and care delivered to women with disabilities who experience domestic violence.