Disability abuse is when a persons with a disability is abused physically, financially, sexually or psychologically due to the person having a disability. Since many disabilities are not visible (for example, asthma, learning disabilities) some abusers cannot rationalise the non-physical disability with a need for understanding, support, and so on. Since some disabled people are in need of additional support from others throughout their lives, they are also vulnerable to neglect. Disability abuse has also been considered a hate crime. The abuse is not limited to those who are visibly disabled such as wheelchair-users or physically deformed such as those with a cleft lip but also those with learning disabilities or difficulties such as dyslexia and dysgraphia, and other disabilities, including Asperger's syndrome, Down syndrome and developmental coordination disorder. In the latter case, this is linked to a poor ability in physical education, and this behaviour can be encouraged by the unthinking physical education teacher.[who?] Abuse of the disabled is not limited to schools. There are many known cases in which the disabled have been abused by staff of a care institution, such as the case revealed in a BBC Panorama programme on a Castlebeck care home (Winterbourne View) near Bristol which led to its closure and the suspension and sacking of some of the staff.
Those with learning disabilities are often not as able to explain things to other people so are more likely to be disbelieved or ignored if they do complain.
There have been numerous cases of parents of children with disabilities who have murdered their children because of their disabilities. Sometimes the parents kill themselves alongside their child. It was even advocated by Aristotle in the case of congenital deformity — "As to the exposure of children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall live.” and is documented in various indigenous societies.
Disabled girls and women are particularly vulnerable to abuse.
Bullying is also a cause of disability and exacerbates existing disabilities.
Bullying can take occur in a variety of forms. They aren't always physical. Verbal bullying and nonverbal bullying are the ones that occur very often. Catherine Thornberry and Karin Olson claim that carers often Dehumanization disabled people, taking away their abilities and qualities that make them a person and lowering them to the level of just an object or a thing. They found that the caregivers or assistants are often the ones who are unintentionally bullying the disabled individuals. The caregivers look at the individuals at lower standard than they do other people, leading to their labelling of disabled individuals as a hate crime.
Disabled people are more vulnerable to sexual abuse than the general population for numerous reasons. As they are less likely to report what has happened to them, their rapists are able to get away with the abuse. Victims often not taken seriously due to ableism which intersects with societal myths about sexual violence, for example, that 'ugly' people aren't raped, since society's beauty standard devalues disability.
According to Valenti-Hein & Schwartz, only 3% of sexual abuse cases involving developmentally disabled people are ever reported, more than 90% of developmentally disabled people will experience sexual abuse at some point in their lives, and 49% will experience 10 or more abusive incidents.
A study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry by Sequeira, Howlin, & Hollins found that sexual abuse is associated with a higher incidence of psychiatric and behavioural disorder in people with learning disabilities in a case-control study.Sexual abuse was associated with increased rates of mental illness and behavioural problems, and with symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Psychological reactions to abuse were similar to those observed in the general population, but with the addition of stereotypical behaviour. The more serious the abuse, the more severe the symptoms that were reported. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/183/5/451
Sexual abuse is less likely to be reported by individuals with disabilities. The people that surround these individuals are often found to be less likely to report these cases of abuse. Society sees the disabled as weak and vulnerable targets. Making it easy for the abuser to not feel guilty or to blame themselves. More often than not people figure they can trust their physicians or doctors who provide care for these individuals. In a clinical study it was found that the physicians would provide poor quality of care to individuals with disabilities. They would suppress the problems instead of addressing them by giving them drugs to make them be quiet. It was also found that physicians were less likely to report sexual abuse or any abuse that they found present on these individuals. The justified these actions by believing that in society that disabled people matter less than any other human. 
In England and Wales over 1700 disability hate crimes were recorded by police in 2011 and 2012, but a review by the Crown Prosecution Service said that they are 'overlooked' and 'under-reported'.
- Developmental disability abuse and vulnerability
- Disability hate crime
- Institutional abuse
- Sexual abuse of people with developmental disabilities
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