The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence


October 2011

Sexual Violence and the Deaf Survivor

 Sexual assault victims who are deaf face higher rates of assault as well as have unique issues not encountered by the hearing. 

Arva Priola, Outreach Coordinator at the disAbility Resource Center in Fredericksburg reports that deaf women have a 10% higher rate of assault than hearing women.  And according to a recent study funded by the National Institute of Justice. Researcher Jennifer Obinna and colleagues at the Minneapolis Council on Crime and Justice found that, “Deaf people face specific barriers. It’s important to distinguish their experiences as sexual assault victims from other sexual assault victims.”

Obinna’s research found that when deaf people report sexual assault, they encounter stereotypes about being a sexual assault victim and being deaf.  It is well documented that survivors of sexually violent crimes report feelings of guilt and embarrassment because of the social stigma frequently attached to rape. The small and close-knit deaf community can contribute to hesitancy in reporting and the need to involve more people for interpretation and communication. 

The closeness of the deaf community can compromise a victim’s anonymity and erode privacy. In addition, as Obinna’s research found, many deaf victims of sexual assault perceive a lack of support within the deaf community, particularly if the perpetrator is also deaf. Consequently, deaf victims can experience a profound sense of isolation.

An additional barrier specific to the deaf community to reporting can be a lack of awareness about deafness and deaf culture among hearing people and lack of resources within sexual assault centers.  This lack of recognizing deaf culture as a defined entity rather than a deficit contributes to centers and the community not focusing on developing appropriate programs and adequate response to victims of crime.   “Part of being in the deaf community is deaf culture,” Priola says.  “We can’t always make assumptions about how a particular culture experiences violence. Even though the experience and many of the reactions are similar, there are cultural differences that service providers and law enforcement must pay attention to. Making decisions about who to tell—or even whether to tell—is all filtered through a cultural lens.”

Many deaf victims may be reluctant to reach out to agencies that serve sexual assault victims because most of the providers are hearing and do not have systems for effectively communicating with deaf people. For example, deaf sexual assault victims cannot count on service agencies having access to a TTY (teletypewriter), much less a staff member who knows how to operate it. Even if a social service or law enforcement agency has an interpreter, deaf victims, like hearing victims, may be reluctant to divulge intimate details to yet another stranger.  Some deaf victims of sexual assault also believe they cannot rely on interpreters to accurately represent their words and experiences. Service agencies that do not have qualified interpreters on site often use the victim’s family or friends to assist in interviews, which can further inhibit a sexual assault victim’s candor.

Today there are many more ways for the deaf community to communicate with the hearing community such as assistive listening devices, computer assisted real time transcription, interpreters, Virginia Relay, Voice Carry Over, Hearing Carry Over, IP Relay through your computer, chat rooms, video relay and texting.  For more information on how to communicate serve the Deaf Community, contact your local disAbility Resource Center. 

 If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted or abused, please contact the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault 540-371-1666


Obinna, J., S. Krueger, C. Osterbaan, J.M. Sadusky, and W. DeVore, Understanding the Needs of the Victims of Sexual Assault in the Deaf Community, final report submitted to the National Institute of Justice, February 2006.

 Priola, A., Undertanding Communication for People with Hearing Loss. The Disability Resource Center. 2011.

Some facts to end DV awareness month ….

Do you know what constitutes Domestic Violence? Domestic or Interpersonal Violence is willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. With the statistics showing that 1 in 4 women may become victims of interpersonal violence, it is considered an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.  The majority of domestic violence reports are women by partners known to them.

Family members and loved ones who witness abuse are considered secondary victims and can also have emotional and psychological trauma.  The strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next is children who witness violence between one’s parents or caretakers.  In particular, boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.   Statistics from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence show that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household.

There is a high correlation between domestic violence and homicide of females.  Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.  As reported by the NCADV, in 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, a staggering statistic, no matter which partner was killed, the woman was physically abused before the murder.  Also staggering is the realization that less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following abuse.  It is suspected that intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.

What Every Man Can Do

to end men’s violence against women


Who knows better about violence against women than women who experience it? Learn about violence by asking a woman who trusts you how violence has affected her life. Then, if she feels comfortable to talk, sit back and listen. Your role isn’t to challenge her on the details, nor debate whether something really should have bothered her or not. It is to listen. Simply trust that if she tells you something hurt her, then it did hurt her.

Turn to your local women’s organizations. Read their publications. Contribute financially. Learn from them.


Violence against women includes physical and sexual assault, sexual harassment, and emotional abuse. Not all violence leaves visible scars. Emotional violence includes regular subjection to demeaning jokes, domineering forms of behavior, and sexual harassment. The basic rights that most men enjoy – safety in their homes, ability to go out at night, a job free of harassment – are a source of fear for women in much of the world.

A common myth is that most violence is committed by strangers. The fact is, when a woman faces violence it is usually by a man she knows – her husband, boyfriend, father, friend or employer.

Violence against women happens everywhere, regardless of class, race or ethnicity, and religion.


Men are not naturally violent. Violence is something that some men learn. Men’s violence is a result of the way many men learn to express their masculinity in relationships with women, children, and other men. Many men learn to think of power as the ability to dominate and control the people and the world around them. This way of thinking makes the use of violence acceptable to many men.

Some violent incidents by men can be linked to substance abuse. But substances don’t cause violence. Genes don’t cause violence. Ultimately, it is the attempt by some men to dominate women or some men’s attempts to dominate other men or groups of men. Violence is a way of asserting power, privilege, and control.


Sexist jokes and language help create a climate where forms of violence and abuse have too long been accepted. Words that degrade women reflect a society that has historically placed women in a second class position. By reflecting this reality they once again put women “in their place” even if that isn’t the intention. One of the most difficult things for men is to learn to engage with other men on this issue. To question sexist language. To speak up when men talk lightly of violence against women.


Sexual harassment refers to unwanted sexual advances or sexually-oriented remarks or behaviors that are unwelcome by another person. Flirting and joking can be fine but only if they are consensual and wanted. Men can join women in opposing sexual harassment by learning to spot it and learning to say something to stop it.


Around the world, dedicated women have created support services for women who are survivors of men’s violence: safe houses for battered women, rape crisis centers, counseling services, and legal aid clinics. Women escaping violent situations depend on these services. They deserve men’s support and our financial backing.


Most men will never be physically or sexually violent. But we all need to examine ways we might try to control women. Do we blame the victim for an assault? Do we dominate conversations? Do we put women down? Do we limit their activities? Do we make all the decisions in our relationships? We all must think about the choices we make.

Real change starts from within.

reposted from the The White Ribbon Campaign & the Virginia Department of Health

Remember My Name event by Richmond YWCA

October 27th
Remember My Name, 7PM, Monument Heights Church (corner of Monument and Libbie).

Remember My Name honors victims of domestic violence from our community and provides family members with the opportunity to speak on their behalf.

For information about submitting a name to the memorial or for general information about Remember My Name, please contact Casey Emery at

DV Programs Spotlight: P.O.W.E.R.S. INC is have it’s First Annual DV Walk to Restore

Become Aware of what Domestic Violence can do to you and how P.O.W.E.R.S. INC. can “restore your life” on:Sunday, October 16,2011,

Flushing Meadows Corona Park at

Ederle Terrace, Queens, NY

Registration Begins @ 9am – Events end @ 12pm

Silent No Longer: Honoring Survivors and Victims of Domestic Violence

Join the Virginia Attorney General in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Silent No Longer: Honoring Survivors and Victims of Domestic Violence

You are invited to see the following: Exhibits open at 9:00 a.m.:

* Silent Witness Figures

* Beating Hearts Display

* Domestic Violence Quilts

Remarks by the Attorney General at 9:30 a.m.

Domestic Violence Survivor, Claire Hylton Sheppard

Video Overview of    Telling Amy’s Story

 And enjoy refreshments.

October 4, 2011

Office of the Attorney General, 900 East Main Street Auditorium, Richmond, Virginia 23219

Questions? Contact Melissa Roberson at (804) 692-0592,

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