Exploring the Experiences of Abuse of College Students With Disabilities

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39 Scopus citations


Intimate partner violence and sexual assault of college students has garnered increased attention and publicity. Current studies have focused primarily on general campus populations with little to no attention to students with disabilities. While studies suggest the rate of abuse of individuals with disabilities is similar or higher compared to the general population, there remains a lack of focus on this issue. Individuals with disabilities are at particularly high risk for abuse, both through typical forms of violence (physical, sexual, emotional, and economic) and those that target one’s disability. In an effort highlight and explore this issue further, an exploratory study was conducted to learn the rates of abuse among university students who have identified as having a disability. This is a cross-sectional survey of 101 students of students with disabilities from a large northeastern public university. Experiences of abuse were measured through the use of the Abuse Assessment Screen- Disability (AAS-D) scale. Students were asked about experiences of physical, sexual, psychological, and disability related abuse within the last year and help seeking behaviors when an incident of abuse occurred. We found that 22 % of participants reported some form of abuse over the last and nearly 62% (n= 63) had experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse before the age of 17. Those who were abused in the past year, 40% reported little or no knowledge of abuse-related resources and only 27% reported the incident. Authors discuss implications results have for programs and policies on campus for individuals with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2801-2823
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number17
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


  • cultural contexts
  • sexual assault
  • youth violence


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