Domestic violence touches many lives in our communities. It can happen to anyone. But when it happens to women with physical disabilities or to mums of children with disabilities, their options to flee the violence are severely limited.

At this most vulnerable time, a woman with physical disabilities faces a system that’s stressed, stretched to its limits and unable to respond to her individual needs.

Where does a woman in a wheelchair live after fleeing with only the clothes she’s wearing?

While some refuges and safe houses are equipped with ramps and modified bathrooms, a disabled women who relies on the help of a carer will not be accepted for accommodation. In our experience, they are not.

Many women fear leaving their abusive situations because their only options for accommodation maybe nursing homes, group homes and Supported Residential Services (SRSs).

If they are placed in one of these facilities for an extended period, they are no longer deemed homeless and would be ineligible for certain types of assistance and would most likely lose their NDIS or Aged Care Packages to assist them with their daily living.

Her future independence is under threat – she could remain stuck and forgotten.

Also, mothers living in a domestic violence situation with a disabled child who requires assistance of a carer for their child will be turned away from a refuge or safe house.

So, does she opt to remain where she’s threatened by violence? Sometimes it seems the best option she has.

Or does she flee and live on the streets? Or force herself onto relatives or friends with homes ill-equipped for her needs?

Does she reach out to a shelter and hope to find specialised support and an open heart?

This is why many women with disabilities stay silent and continue to live in an abusive environment because they are in fear of where they may end up.