The Disabled as Victims of Violent Crime

People with Disability Experience Double the Rate of Violent Crime
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics
Published: Dec 09, 2010 (Revised: Dec 09, 2010)

Abstract: Nearly 730,000 nonfatal violent crimes and about 1.8 million property crimes were experienced by people age 12 or older with a disability.

Detail: People With Disabilities Experienced Violent Crime at Twice the Rate of People Without Disabilities in 2008.

Nearly 730,000 nonfatal violent crimes and about 1.8 million property crimes were experienced by people age 12 or older with a disability in 2008, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The violent crimes against people with disabilities included 40,000 rapes or sexual assaults, 116,000 robberies, 115,000 aggravated assaults and nearly 459,000 simple assaults.

The rate of nonfatal violent crime against people with disabilities (40 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older, after adjusting for age) was about twice the rate for those without disabilities (21 per 1,000). The study generated age-adjusted criminal victimization rates for victims with disabilities, who are typically older than victims without disabilities. In general, the age adjustment accounts for victimization rates that decrease as the age of victims increase.

Six types of disabilities were identified among persons who experienced criminal victimization: hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care and independent living. A disability was defined as a sensory, physical, mental or emotional condition lasting six months or longer that makes it difficult for a person to perform activities of daily living. Among those measured, people with cognitive disabilities had the highest risk of violent victimization.

People ages 12 to 24 and ages 35 to 49 with disabilities were nearly twice as likely as people in those age groups without disabilities to be victimized. (These rates are not adjusted for age.) Persons ages 25 to 34 with and without disabilities experienced violence at about the same rate (30 per 1,000 persons with disabilities compared to 25 per 1,000 for those without disabilities).

Females with disabilities (43 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older) experienced higher rates of violent crime than males with disabilities (36 per 1,000). About 27 percent of violent crime against females with disabilities was committed by an intimate partner (defined as a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend) compared to one percent of violent crime against males with disabilities.

Nearly 15 percent of violent crime victims with disabilities believed they were targeted for violence due to their disability. Persons with disabilities were slightly less likely to resist an offender during a violent crime than persons without disabilities. About one-fifth of violence against persons with disabilities involved an offender with a weapon, including eight percent in which the offender was armed with a firearm. About 27 percent of violent crime victims with disabilities were injured as a result of the crime; 11 percent sought treatment.

These estimates were produced in response to the Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act (PL 105-301, 1998). Disability was measured in the National Crime Victimization Survey using procedures developed for the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The report, Crime Against People with Disabilities, 2008 (NCJ 231328), was written by BJS statisticians Erika Harrell and Michael Rand. Following publication, the report can be found at

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at

2 thoughts on “The Disabled as Victims of Violent Crime”

  1. Prior to being in the OT program at WMU I worked with a blind women. She introduced me to similar statistics about increased victim rates among individuals with disabilities. I’m glad that she was aware of these facts because it allowed her to take control and avoid potentially dangerous situations. As a future OT I think we need to make sure individuals at risk are aware of these facts but also teach them strategies to keep themselves safe.


  2. This is a great article that addresses a very important topic. I plan on sharing this article with friends and family to raise their awareness as well. As a future clinician it will be my responsibility to advocate for my client’s with disabilities in hopes to help prevent them to be the victim of violence and crime.


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