Below are a number of characteristics that should be considered in assessing a person’s exposure to risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation. An assessment of circumstances might then help disability services staff to develop strategies to reduce risk.
- Segregated service environments (e.g. residential care facilities, sheltered employment)
- Incompatibility between residents and/or co-workers or other service users
- Clients not valued and respected
- Tolerance of violence
- Lacking quality management systems
- High staff turnover
- Low levels of attachment between family members (parent–child, sibling relationships)
- Past or current substance abuse
- Perceived caregiver stress
- Social isolation
- Power and control issues
- Poor health and wellbeing, including social determinants such as low income, inadequate housing etc.
- Negative attitudes towards people with disability demonstrated by family members
- High levels of dependency (either on or by the person with a disability)
- Lack of awareness and use of formal supports
- History of family violence and attitudes suggesting a tolerance of family violence
- Social isolation and lack of close relationships
- Communication difficulties
- Challenging, disruptive, reckless and/or risky behaviour
- Inappropriate sexual behaviour
- Learnt over-compliance or complete dependence on caregivers
- Limited physical mobility
- Limited sense of personal power, low self-esteem
- Low income or restricted access to resources
- Limited sex education or age-appropriate sexual experiences
- High tolerance of violence
- Lack of self-protection skills
- Limited life experiences
- Lack of knowledge of rights
This list of characteristics is not exhaustive and other factors may also contribute to or increase a person’s risk.
A number of people with disability have significant communication and sensory issues, and as a result may have difficulty raising concerns about incidences of abuse, neglect and exploitation. It is essential that people with communication and sensory issues are provided with appropriate communication tools.