Qualitative research to understand the support needs of disabled adult rape victims

This qualitative research with disabled victim-survivors of sexual violence has been carried out as part of a wider research programme in the context of a public commitment in the Rape Review Action Plan. The aim of this research was to present findings and recommendations that can help to inform recommissioning of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund to help ensure it meets the needs of all victim-survivors. To be able to deliver this, the research aimed to explore the following questions:

Q1:         What do disabled sexual violence victim-survivors want from victim support services?

Q2:         What do they consider to be effective in helping them (a) engage with the criminal justice process and (b) cope and recover from the crime?

Q3:         How can sexual violence victim support services become more inclusive?

Thirty semi-structured interviews and two focus groups were conducted with a total of 39 disabled victim-survivors. Disability is defined as by the Equality Act 2010 and the respondents had a range of impairments covered within this definition. Respondents had the option to use creative methods when talking about their experiences and when visualising a fully inclusive victim support service. Most interviews were held remotely. Two interviews and the focus groups were conducted face to face.

The research centre-staged the voices of disabled victim-survivors. The findings and recommendations presented in the resultant report were considered alongside all three strands of the research programme conducted by MoJ, which engaged in more detail with existing literature and the policy landscape. Overall, the MoJ program of research highlighted the range of policies relating to the rights of disabled victim-survivors that currently exist, whilst our research evidenced that these are not always adhered to.

Publications and outputs

Hollomotz, A. and L. Burch (submit manuscript by end 2024). Disability and sexual violence: An intersectional analysis of journeys towards survival and justice. Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Hollomotz, A. (forthcoming in 2024). “I just felt that I was somebody who was there to be abused.” - A sociological analysis of structural causes for delayed naming of sexual violence at the intersection of disability and gender. Mental Capacity Law, Sexual Relationships, and Intimacy. B. Clough and L. Pritchard-Jones. Bristol, Bristol University Press.

Hollomotz A. et al. (2023, 26-01). “Formal support needs of disabled adult victimsurvivors of sexual violence” A qualitative research report for the Ministry of Justice. Also available in large print and easy read versions.

Project website