Childhood Disability-Related Abuse: A Retrospective Proof-of-Concept Study

Emily M. Lund, Catherine P. Corr, Erin Kinavey, Kelli N. Mott, Dalia Chowdhury, Marilyn Hammond, Katie B. Thomas, Jared C. Schultz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the phenomenon of disability-related abuse has been well-documented in adults with disabilities, the occurrence of disability-related abuse in childhood has not been studied. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to establish proof of concept for childhood disability-related abuse. American adults (n = 485) retrospectively report on physical, sexual, and disability-related abuse that they experienced before the age of 18. The sample consisted of 382 participants with no disability, 55 participants with an adult-onset disability, and 48 participants with a childhood-onset disability. Disability-related abuse was conceptualized as involving either (a) the denial of assistive technology or (b) the denial of care, permission, or assistance with an activity of self-care. Childhood denial of assistive technology was rare in all groups (1.3%-2.1%), but denial of care, assistance, or permission was significantly higher in the childhood-onset disability group (20.8%) than either the adult-onset (7.3%) or no-disability (6.5%) groups. The three groups did not significantly differ in the rates of reported childhood physical or sexual abuse. This study provides preliminary proof-of-concept evidence for childhood disability-related abuse, particularly denial of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10029-10053
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
Issue number21-22
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • abuse
  • denial of care
  • disability
  • disabled
  • neglect
  • proof of concept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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