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Building Bridges to Break Barriers

New Video Series Highlights Issues Facing People with Disabilities

We know that domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of violence and crime can happen to anyone, regardless of race, age, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Yet some groups of people are particularly vulnerable to abuse. A recent collaboration between Blackburn Center, Eastern Suburban Citizen Advocacy (ESCA), and Evolve Coaching aims to highlight the critical issue of abuse of people with disabilities.

People with disabilities make up approximately 26% of the population of the United States, but they are much more likely to experience abuse than people without disabilities. According to data from the U.S. Department of Justice, people with disabilities are 3 times more likely to experience a violent crime and 7 times more likely to experience sexual violence than people without disabilities. People with disabilities may also face significant barriers to seeking help.

The increased rate of abuse against people with disabilities is often described as a hidden epidemic. To raise awareness about this problem, Blackburn Center joined forces with ESCA and Evolve Coaching to create a series of videos on the topic. The first video in the series, There Is Support: Coming to Together to Recognize Abuse and Support People with Disabilities, was released in early March. This short film was made by people who make up and support our disability community, with an intended audience of people with disabilities, their families, and professionals who support them.

This partnership brings together three Western Pennsylvania non-profit organizations that are deeply committed to educating the public about abuse and people with disabilities. Through its outreach programs, Blackburn Center connects to people with disabilities throughout Westmoreland County who may be experiencing abuse. A small non-profit located in Murrysville, ESCA advocates for the best interests of people with disabilities across a broad range of situations. Finally, Pittsburgh-based non-profit Evolve Coaching offers individualized support for neurodiverse college students and job seekers in the Pittsburgh region.

The idea for this video series arose during the pandemic, when Blackburn Center wanted to find a way to expand our outreach to people with disabilities. After reaching out to ESCA, the two agencies decided to create a series of videos that could be widely distributed and shared throughout the region. Evolve Coaching joined the collaboration to help bring the project’s ideas to fruition.

The first film, which broadly addresses the topic of abuse of people with disabilities, was released with an online watch party. Future films will focus on more specific issues, such as financial exploitation, emotional abuse, sexual assault, and healthy relationships.

Our goal with this series is to open up conversations in the community about abuse and people with disabilities. These videos will also be provided to community partners, such as Achieva and Westmoreland Casemanagement and Supports (WCSI), so that they can be used in trainings and shared with individuals, group homes, professionals, and others in the community. You can view this video and all upcoming videos on our YouTube channel.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, we offer a training and educational program on abuse and people with disabilities. We can tailor this program to meet the needs of community organizations, businesses, and groups. We can also work with you to host a screening of one or more of these short films.

As always, we are here for you if you need us. All of our services are provided at no charge to clients, and are or can be accessible. Call anytime: 1-888-832-2272 (TDD available).


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