Learning Disability Week highlights the hidden problem of domestic abuse

Learning Disability Week (19-26 June) is a time when we focus on the opportunities and issues that affect people in our community with a learning disability. This year, Buckinghamshire County Council and its partner organisations across the county are highlighting an issue that people often overlook – people with a learning disability are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse can affect anyone, but research has shown that a learning disability makes people more vulnerable, as they sometimes don’t understand when a relationship is abusive and how they can take action to end it. As with domestic abuse generally, the majority of victims in these situations are women.

Buckinghamshire County Council and its partners Thames Valley Police,Women’s Aid, SMART CJS and Rape Crisis want to remind people that those with learning disabilities can be vulnerable to domestic violence and abuse, and to be aware that it may be a problem for an individual in their family or community.

April fromAylesbury Women’s Aidsaid: “Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse. This can mean physical violence, verbal or online abuse, sexual abuse, or financial exploitation. Often it is a combination of these. No one should suffer without assistance behind closed doors, which is why we must draw attention to those groups whose sufferingsometimes goes unnoticed.”

Anne Wight, Buckinghamshire County Council Deputy Cabinet Member for Community Engagement & Public Health, said: “Because the issue of domestic abuse suffered by those with a learning disability is hidden, it means that victims are in danger of being left without a means of escape. Learning Disability Week is the ideal opportunity to make sure we are all aware of the issue and vigilant for any signs of abuse.”

Services available to help are Aylesbury Women’s Aid 01296 437777, Wycombe Women’s Aid 01494 461367, Smart CJS 07985188072, Rape Crisis Aylesbury 01296 392468 and Rape Crisis Wycombe (which also covers Chiltern and South Bucks) 01494 462222.