Intimate personal violence, which is similar to domestic violence, affects an estimated 12 million people, both men and women, per year. That is according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website, where plenty of similarly shocking statistics can be found. For instance, “more than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime”.

But the Hotline disregards one important body of victimized individuals: disabled people. According to the American Psychological Association, those with any sort of disability, be it physical or mental, or forty percent more vulnerable to being abused by an intimate partner. The reasons could seem obvious—a disabled person is more vulnerable, and therefore easier to abuse. For abusers, they serve as the perfect target.

This sort of abuse can occur in multiple ways. Physically, an abuser can deny a disabled person mobility, such as stealing their wheelchair or prosthetics that help them get around. Or, abusers can deny disabled persons their pain killers, which can cause the victim to therefore be more submissive to the abuser’s will so long as the medication is returned. Similarly, those with mental disabilities, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, rely on psychiatric medication in order to cope with daily living. Without these medications, those afflicted with PTSD, like veterans, can become trapped in a nightmarish situation. In fact, 22 veterans a day choose to take their own lives, and no doubt some of these veterans unknowingly suffered from PTSD or did not receive proper treatment for their condition. Intimate Personal Violence can quickly escalate to these sorts of tragic levels, which is why any victim should contact a domestic violence hotline immediately.

Who can be abusers to the disabled? The APA says that there are a wide variety of potential abusers involved in a disabled person’s life, including his or her “caregiver, family members, transportation providers, intimate partners, [or] personal care attendants”.

Unfortunately, it is rather strange that the APA targets the statistics above specifically towards women, because although it is more uncommon, men are just as able to become victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline says that 1 in 10 men (10%) have been victims of either “rape, physical violence, and/or stalking,” in any collection of annual statistics. Although small, any percentage of men who are victimized by domestic violence should not be overshadowed and forgotten. Domestic violence as a whole is wrong, and such cases of disabled person’s domestic violence will probably grow within the coming years. Why?

With swarms of combat veterans returning from Afghanistan in current and forthcoming years, the number of cases involving violence against disabled people is sure to skyrocket. After all, both physical and mental diseases run rampart both on and shortly off the battlefield, what with a large population of veterans developing PTSD and others needing amputation after combat tragedies such as detonated IEDs. Therefore, a solution must be reached in order to protect these veteran who have already fought one war, and do not have the strength or the will to fight another inside the home.

For domestic violence victims, please be sure to contact helpful and life-saving hotlines such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), SafeHorizon (1-800-621-4663), or the Family Violence Prevention & Services Resource Center (800-537-2238).

Certainly with the numerous VA scandals erupting all over the news, proper caretakers largely cannot be found at the Veterans’ Administration. As a result, veterans are strongly discouraged from seeking medical attention by ways of the VA. Reports released by CBS News in 2013 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. A medical practitioner associated with the VA anonymously admitted to CBS News in a TV interview that “it is easier to write a prescription for narcotics and to just move along and get to the next patient” so that more veterans would be “treated”. This news outbreak, coupled with the 2014 VA scandal, hopefully cause ailing veterans to consult non-associated medical facilities to rehabilitate their physical and mental health.

One such organization is Operation: I.V. Operation: I.V is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life.

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.