An exploratory study of the needs and experiences of persons disabled through crimes of violence.
This research study aimed to explore the impact on individuals of becoming physically disabled through being victims of crimes of violence. The study begins with a literature review related to issues of disability and to victims of crime. The main focus of the research, however, was to gather information regarding the experiences and needs of persons disabled through being victims of crime and to establish the rehabilitation and trauma counselling services that they have had access to. An exploratory, descriptive, research design guided the study. A purposive sampling procedure was used to identify twenty persons known to the Durban branch of the Association for the Physically Challenged, which provides services to physically disabled persons. Individual, face-to-face interviews were held with the respondents, using a semi-structured interview schedule. Interviewer observations were also undertaken in the process. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used in analysing the results, from which conclusions and recommendations were drawn. The study findings indicate that the majority of persons had become severely disabled through being victims of crimes of violence. The majority of respondents were young when they became disabled, and were mostly single persons who experienced a high degree of dependence on others for various types of assistance, particularly their families and friends. The respondents also experienced a variety of unmet needs as both disabled persons and as victims of crimes of violence, through a lack of and/or inaccessibility to services. Disability, as seen within the context of the "social model", emphasises the role of a disabling environment in contributing to the meaning of disability. Resulting from the findings, it is proposed that social workers are ideally placed to foster empowerment initiatives of disabled persons and victims of crime through facilitating their active involvement in directing services that are both accessible and relevant to their needs.