I’ve been doing some research on the social experiences of people with disabilities in “community living.” Now I haven’t narrowed my research at this point, as I will soon, to people with intellectual disabilities, so I’ve just been browsing around reading, often upsetting material. One that I’m reading right now discussed ‘situational vulnerability’ for people with disabilities and described this as being certain hotspots where violence is likely to occur. I leaned forward when I got to this section, I was really interested to see what was listed and particularly, and more importantly, what wasn’t listed. Where, in our community, are people with disabilities less likely or not likely to be targeted for violence and hostility.

Here’s what was listed: on the street; in and and around home based settings … ; in institutional settings, in schools, colleges and at work, and on public transit.

Um.

There’s another expression for this: Pretty much everywhere.

It’s disturbing to see, written in black and white, that situational vulnerability, means that there is virtually no situation under which people with disabilities can expect to feel safe from targeted violence and hostility.

So.

This is one of many reports I’ve read recently that result from major research project that paint a bleak view of the community and what it means. A British study showed that a large number of people with intellectual disabilities make adjustments to their movements in the community or adaptions to their schedule of activity out of fear of being targeted and hurt while being out, just being out. An Australian study showed that 56 percent of people with disabilities experienced barriers to social inclusion and community participation. An American Study that a significant number of people with disabilities report experiencing abuse and victimization ‘too many times to count.’

These are large important studies. They raise significant issues that demand by the sheer size of the problem to be noticed, to be used in discussions of where we actually are in our movement towards full citizenship.

But.

Silence. I don’t hear this being discussed in conferences or at tables where planners plan things that need to be planned. I don’t hear concern expressed about what this means to actual individuals who deal with these issues daily.

I think there is a fear that if we talk about the community, and what it’s really like, that people will decide to take community away from us. Protect us from this thing called ‘freedom’. That’s the knee jerk response. But what about, what about, maybe helping to transform people with disabilities, through skill development and through confidence building and through self protection strategies and what about transforming police and other protection services through the voices of those who have discovered their own power and their ownership of the right to be and live free. What about beginning by coming together and speaking honestly about the problem – without fear of consequences for that honesty.

What about …?

What about … ?