Data from an eight-year survey of college students at Rochester Institute of Technology indicates that Deaf and hard of hearing individuals are 1.5 times more likely to be victims of relationship violence including sexual harassment, sexual assault, psychological abuse and physical abuse in their lifetime.
Abuse In the Deaf Community
Deaf victims of domestic violence often face unique circumstances:
- Information can travel quickly within a Deaf, DeafBlind or hard of hearing community, compromising confidentiality and the victim’s safety.
- Law enforcement and shelters are often not skilled at communicating with Deaf, DeafBlind or hard of hearing individuals and often don’t have interpreters.
- Their abusive partners may take away their communication devices.
- Their abusive partners may give false information to the victim to make them believe they have fewer options.
- The victim may be isolated from family, friends, services, resources and options.
According to DeafHope these are some examples of what victims face and the tactics abusive partners use to abuse the Deaf:
- Intimidation through gestures, facial expressions, or exaggerated signs, floor stomping and pounding on the table or door
- Signing very close to a victim’s face when angry
- Criticizing the victim’s American sign language (ASL) skills or communication style
- Not informing the victim when people try to call on the phone or try to catch their attention
- Excluding the victim from important conversations
- Leaving the victim out in social situations with hearing people
- Talking negatively about the Deaf community
- Wrongly interpreting to manipulate the situation if the police are called
- Not allowing children to use ASL to talk with the victim
- Not allowing children to be proud of Deaf culture
- Criticizing the victim’s speech and English skills