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Survey reveals extent of DA suffered by visually impaired people

Around one in 12 blind and partially sighted people in the UK is believed to be a victim or survivor of domestic abuse, according to a report published by SafeLives and sight loss charity Vision Foundation.

The findings show 8.6% –188,000 – of the 2.19 million visually impaired women and men in the country have experience of domestic abuse. That compares with around 6% for the population as a whole, according to Office of National Statistics research.

Before the SafeLives-Vision Foundation survey, Unseen: Blind and partially sighted people’s experiences of domestic abuse, there was no record of the domestic abuse experiences of visually impaired victims nor the many barriers they face in getting support, said Vision Foundation chief executive Olivia Curno.

“We were shocked by what the research uncovered. It’s devastating to read, far worse than we had anticipated,” she added.

Among forms of abuse described by survivors were moving objects to cause falls, withholding support such as guiding equipment, not taking them to appointments and filming them without their knowledge.

“Participants also expressed very high levels of fear, particularly when not knowing where a blow or object might come from, nor how or if their children were being harmed in front of them,” Safelives said in its summary of the report.

Among changes Vision Foundation and SafeLives propose are: training for individuals and organisations working with visually impaired people; domestic abuse champions for visual impairment organisations; a survivors’ network to share experiences and help shape future research; awareness campaigns; and funding to enable organisations to implement change.

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