Deaf Women and Community Safety

It’s a well known fact that women are more likely to experience violence and abuse from someone they know and often in their own homes.   Much has been written lately about women’s “fears” of street crime being unfounded and not a real reflection of the types of violence they experience.

Whilst the above statistic is true, it is often stated in a way that can minimise or ignore women’s experiences and concerns about their sense of street safety.

The fact is that 19% of women who used our service in the past 6 months have experienced street crime.   Whilst this is much lower than women’s experiences of domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault it shouldn’t be dismissed.   We also have to take into account that 54% of women do not actually go out on their own at certain times of the day.

As women, it has been drummed into us from a very young age that we should go out in pairs, always have enough for bus / taxi fares, be in before it gets dark and to avoid certain areas.  Women are forced to take responsibility for their own safety.   Lets face it we can’t afford not too!

It also has to be recognised that particular women are more vulnerable to discrimination, harassment and violence in the street than others.   Black women, disabled, older, and women with learning difficulties often talk about street crime in addition to abuse and violence at home.

It’s our work with women with double discriminations that has shaped Wise Women’s involvement with Deaf Women over the past 12 years.  We have run several Personal Safety Courses within the Deaf Community which teach women skills for identifying, avoiding and escaping potentially dangerous situations in a variety of settings.   By focussing on what women currently do, developing new strategies, offering support, awareness raising and challenging women blaming attitudes we build confidence and increase women’s options for making informed choices about their safety.

Deaf women have welcomed accessing the Courses however a common complaint is that very little information is written in a format British Sign Language Users find clear and helpful.  In addition to this very few services are Deaf Aware and even fewer have communication aides to allow Deaf Women to contact them.

For this reason Wise Women and the Glasgow Partnership on Violence Against Women facilitated a consultation night with Deaf Women to discuss these issues.  From here Wise Women set up The Deaf Women Against Violence Group to develop and produce a Violence Against Deaf Women Pack focussing on 6 key areas of violence and abuse.

The Pack is now complete and as well as raising awareness, blasting myths and challenging attitudes it offers women access to services throughout Glasgow that have Deaf aware staff, budgets for interpreters and minicoms.

If you need any information about the pack, the Deaf Women’s Group or making your service more accessible to Deaf Women please contact Wise Women on
0141 550 7557 (voice)  0141-550-7558 (minicom) 07969 835 966 (sms)
email : info@wisewomen.org.uk

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