‘I Know it was every week, but I can't be sure if it was every day: domestic violence and women with learning disabilities

McCarthy M, Hunt S, Milne-Skillman K

Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities 2017, 30, 2: 269—282

Available online 14 Jan 2016

Abstract

Background
Domestic violence against women is well researched in the general population, but much less so in relation to women with learning disabilities. This qualitative research study interviewed 15 women with learning disabilities who had experienced domestic violence about their experiences, the impact of the violence on them and their children, their coping strategies and help seeking behaviour.

Materials and methods
Semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted. Data were analysed using Inter-pretive Phenomenological Analysis. A service user advisory group helped at particular stages, notably at the formative stage and with dissemination, especially the production of accessible materials, including a DVD.

Results
The violence experienced by many of the women was severe and frequent. It impacted negatively on their physical and psychological well-being. The women’s awareness of refuges and others sources of help was generally low.

Conclusions
Healthcare and social care professionals have a clear remit to help women with learning disabilities to avoid and escape violent relationships.