Abuse in institutions 307
People who work in institutions
Many people who work in institutions that care for women with disabilities
have good intentions. But some people who work in institutions may
treat people with disabilities badly. These people like having power over
others. Other people who work in institutions may get upset at how women
with disabilities are treated in the institution and may want to do things
differently. These caregivers usually work long hours with low pay. They are
usually expected to do what they are told, and they rarely have the power to
change the conditions in which they work.
Sometimes caregivers do
not say anything because
I’d like to spend more time
they do not know who
to tell. Or they are afraid
of losing their jobs. If
caregivers complain about
with the patients, but I
wouldn’t be able to get
all my work done. And if I
don’t, I’ll lose my job!
abuse they might be told
it is not their problem,
or they may be threatened or laughed at. Many times the caregivers end up
believing that bad care is just how things are.
The people in charge of the institution may not know about the abuse, or
if they know, they may pretend nothing is happening, or they may say that
violence against disabled people does not matter.
Bad conditions and the abuse of people with disabilities in institutions
are issues for the whole community. People in institutions need enough
resources for good care and to make sure they are not abused.
Working to change institutions
If you know someone who has been sent to live in an institution, and you think the
person is not being treated well, here are some ideas to work for change:
• Form a parent’s or family group, and speak with the people in charge. They will
be more likely to pay attention if you go as a group than if you go alone.
• Build community involvement with the institution and residents by offering
residents opportunities for meaningful activity and interaction with the
• Campaign for visiting hours and conditions that allow residents to go out with
a visitor, or spend time privately with people who come to visit.
• Advocate for community programs and stay-at-home services, so that people
do not have to go to institutions.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007