Women with disabilities who encounter domestic violence face unique challenges, and a new project will specifically explore their experiences and develop strategies to better meet their needs.
The Not Without Us project includes community meetings held in locations around the province. Women with disabilities who have experienced domestic violence can talk about their experiences and share ideas for increased accessibility.
In this region meetings are being held:
• In Yarmouth, Wednesday, Aug. 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Burridge Campus of NSCC, Room C-181 372 Pleasant St.
• In Shelburne, Thursday, Aug. 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Shelburne Campus of NSCC, Room S15, 1575 Lake Rd.
This project is the first of its kind in Nova Scotia and is a partnership between Easter Seals Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities.
Sherry Costa, provincial co-ordinator for the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities, said in an interview that the project came on the heels of information released last year by Statistics Canada and a subsequent release by DisAbled Women’s Network Canada in March on women with disabilities. She noted that last December they brought together women and girls with disabilities.
“Well, from out of these conversations, anything but inclusion and equality came to the forefront,” Costa said, adding there a commitment made to explore opportunities to perform research in the area.
“We want to provide a safe space for women with disabilities who have experienced violence to be able to connect with peers and discuss those experiences.”
From the public sessions, Costa expects to hear that there are women who are feeling very isolated.
“But we’re hoping to be able to provide peer support opportunities for women who have or are at risk for experiencing violence,” she said, adding they may be able to provide needed information or referrals to community supports.
There may also be opportunities for the women themselves to become mentors and help each other move toward greater independence, Costa said.
“Oftentimes, those calls to get help are not made,” she said.
Among the challenges facing women with disabilities are that the person who is perpetrating the violence may be a caretaker. Costa also noted the lack of fully accessible shelters in Nova Scotia.
The names of those who take part in the sessions will remain confidential, but the information gathered will be put into a report, which will be presented at a symposium next spring and also distributed to participants and service providers. She said she is hopeful it will result in development of violence prevention materials specifically for women with disabilities.
For more information or to RSVP, email.