Nov. 28, 2014

DAWN-RAFH Canada launches campaign to document women’s stories of abuse


 November 27, 2014  (Montreal) DAWN-RAFH Canada is launching a social media campaign to document disabled and Deaf women’s experiences of violence and abuse, as a way to give voice to a group of women who are often silenced by ableist beliefs and systems.

 After close to 30 years of working with women with disabilities, DAWN-RAFH Canada has developed an in-depth understanding of the complex ways in which violence is experienced by this group. The majority of disabled women and Deaf women never report or disclose the abuse they experience. Silenced, these women live in an insidious cycle of violence cycle that takes place behind closed doors.

Research shows the reasons for not reporting are multiple: women with disabilities and Deaf women are often dependent on their abusers, financially or for caregiving. As well, they lack access to appropriate legal and police services. In many cases, women may not even be aware that what they are experiencing is a form of violence.

“As a society, we need to ask ourselves why disabled and Deaf women are not reporting violence and assault, even when we know that they are many more times more likely than non-disabled women to be victims,” said Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of DAWN-RAFH Canada. “Ultimately women are afraid to disclose because they fear that they will not be believed or seen as credible by the very institutions that are meant to serve them,” Brayton said.

DAWN-RAFH Canada believes that without appropriate intervention programs within the legal system that are designed specifically to respond to the experiences of disabled women, support for them as victims of crime is compromised or non-existent.

“Women should not be left to bear the burden of breaking the cycle of violence by themselves. To make them responsible for this is to revictimize them,” Brayton insists.

 As a way to give victims a chance to be heard, DAWN-RAFH Canada is encouraging Deaf and disabled women to share their stories of violence and abuse via Twitter using the hashtag #WeCanTellWeWillTell or by emailing

 The testimonies will be posted on the organization’s website with the contributors’ permission. “I have chosen to share my own story of sexual abuse in order to encourage other women to break the silence, and to claim our right to be heard and to be believed,” Brayton says.

 DAWN-RAFH Canada is a national, feminist, cross-disability organization whose mission is to end the poverty, isolation, discrimination and violence experienced by Canadian women with disabilities.

 For more information click here or contact:

 Hanane Khales,

Communications Coordinator, DAWN-RAFH Canada

Tel: 514-396-0009 Ext. 2505