According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 Census, approximately one in five Americans have a disability. Unfortunately, many in this population will become victims of crime during their lifetime. Acts of physical aggression, domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes against persons with disabilities often go unreported, which makes it difficult to document and respond to the true scope of this abuse and victimization. Even when law enforcement and victim service providers are able to intervene in the aftermath of a crime, many lack experience working with persons with disabilities. As a result, they may not understand how best to guide and support them through the processes of reporting an incident and navigating the criminal justice system.
Although awareness has been raised and progress has been made in the victim assistance field since the 2000 Census, too many crime victims with disabilities still remain invisible to the systems charged with serving them. For those who want to improve their community’s local response to crime victims with disabilities, this bulletin provides a snapshot of the scope and dynamics of the Promising Practices grant, while the companion toolkit provides more indepth detail on the strategies and activities of each subgrantee.