Barriers exist in all parts of the response systems for survivors with disabilities: victim services, disability organizations, criminal justice systems, and health systems. Barriers can exist in communication, physical access, policies, program design, information, and attitudes. In rural communities, additional barriers may exist due to a lack of nearby services and resources, confidentiality and privacy challenges, and inadequate transportation systems. To enhance access to sexual assault services for victims with all types of disabilities in rural dual/multi-service advocacy agencies, attention must be paid to our policies, outreach, welcoming environments, ensuring access, attitudinal access, communication access, collaboration, training, and sustainability. Each of these strategies will be addressed with an emphasis on practical application.
This paper was created especially for rural advocates at dual and multi-service agencies but could be helpful for any advocate working with survivors of sexual violence.