Hesperian Health Guides

Physical abuse

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HealthWiki > A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities > Chapter 14: Abuse, violence, and self-defense > Physical abuse


Physical abuse includes being beaten, pushed down, pinched, slapped, or hit. Sometimes people threaten a disabled woman’s children. She may be even more afraid because she feels she cannot protect her children from violence.

a man slapping a woman in a wheelchair.

Women with disabilities can be physically abused and treated roughly in many different ways and places: in clinics, schools, residential homes, at their workplace, on public transportation, or even at home.

In addition to beatings and assault, a disabled woman is being physically abused when:

  • someone deliberately breaks equipment she uses, such as her hearing aid, or her crutches.
  • someone deliberately moves a blind woman’s furniture to make it harder for her to get around.
WWD Ch14 Page 294-2.png WWD Ch14 Page 294-3.png
  • she is forced to be naked in front of strangers during an exam in a public clinic or hospital.
WWD Ch14 Page 294-4.png Health workers can prevent this kind of situation by covering her body as much as possible with her own clothes or a sheet. Or they can examine her in a private room, if one is available.