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Unpacking Ableism: Disability and Violence Prevention

May 2019 Webinar

Unpacking Ableism: Disability and Violence Prevention

Violence plays a significant role in the lives of people with disabilities and the people who serve them. People with disabilities are three times more likely to experience neglect, physical and sexual abuse across their lifetime than those without disabilities. Adverse emotional consequences of violence are compounded by severe stress caused by dependence, income instability, poor health care, social isolation and living in a chaotic group home or independent living setting that lacks staff. Disability serving agencies by and large do not reach out to domestic and sexual violence agencies, but we can make it easier for them to do so.

This webinar was designed to enhance the capacity of people who work at the intersection of multiple forms of violence and disability so that together we can better support individuals with disabilities, their staff and families. Our goal is to understand the context of multiple forms of violence, including sexual violence, identify barriers to service for people with disabilities and establish and solidify best practices for serving vulnerable people within disability and violence prevention and intervention services.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Describe how ableism intersects with other social problems (like domestic or sexual violence) to create barriers to healing and support for vulnerable people;

  2. Summarize the public health approach to sexual violence primary prevention and understand how disability magnifies risk for violence perpetration;

  3. Develop free and low cost organizational and community solutions to meet the needs of people with a variety of disabilities until the violence ends.

Free for members / $25 for non-members


Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams, M.A. (she/her pronouns) is a Prevention Specialist at Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) whose work focuses on primary prevention with and for people with disabilities. After 17 years as a victim’s advocate who also coordinated prevention efforts for local shelters in Oregon and Indiana, Cierra joined the ICADV prevention team in 2015. Ms. Thomas-Williams works collaboratively with the ICADV prevention team to develop, implement, evaluate and report on strategies supporting Indiana’s sexual violence prevention plan and intimate partner violence prevention plan. Current projects include: implementing trauma-informed care training modules and trauma-informed organizational changes in collaboration with disability services agencies to reduce sexual violence perpetration; identifying sexual violence related state-level data sources (such as perpetration and victimization prevalence) that includes people with developmental disabilities; and identifying and increasing the number of agencies that partner with people with disabilities to teach trauma-informed healthy sexuality specifically as it relates to adults with developmental disabilities. Cierra was honored as the 2013 Indiana Preventionist of the year for her work in the fields of domestic and sexual violence prevention. ARC of Indiana (a disability advocacy agency) awarded Ms. Thomas-Williams the 2013 Innovation award for her collaborations with Stone Belt, ARC.

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