Acts of violence can affect anyone. But men and women with disability are more likely than those without disability to have experienced violence, abuse or sexual harassment at some point in their lives.

Table VIOLENCE.1: Type of violence experienced, by disability status

Adults who have experienced …

With disability(a)(b)

Without disability(b)

violence after age 15

(2.7 million)

(4.5 million)

abuse before age 15

(1.1 million)

(1.3 million)

sexual violence after age 15


(1.2 million)

physical violence after age 15

(2.5 million)

(4.1 million)

intimate partner violence after age 15

(1.2 million)

(1.7 million)

emotional abuse(c) after age 15

(1.5 million)

(2.1 million)

sexual harassment in their lifetime

(2.5 million)

(4.7 million)

(a)  At the time of the survey (2016). It is not possible to determine whether or not a person had disability at the time of experiencing the incident of violence.

(b)  Aged 18 and over, living in households.

(c)  From a current or previous partner.

What is meant by violence, abuse and harassment?

The data provided in this section relate to the following definitions of violence, abuse and harassment.


Violence refers to:

  • sexual—behaviours of a sexual nature carried out against a person’s will, such as sexual assault or threat of sexual assault, or
  • physical—incidents involving the use or threat of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten a person.

Violence can be perpetrated by strangers or by someone the person knows.


Abuse refers to physical and sexual abuse of a child under the age of 15 years by an adult. Abuse excludes discipline that accidentally resulted in injury, emotional abuse, and physical and sexual abuse by someone under the age of 18.

Intimate partner violence

An intimate partner can be a current and previous partner, boyfriend/girlfriend/date and ex‑boyfriend/ex-girlfriend. Intimate partner violence includes sexual and/or physical violence by an intimate partner.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse refers to when a current or previous partner tries to control the behaviour of a person, causing them emotional harm or fear.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment refers to behaviours a person finds improper or unwanted, makes them feel uncomfortable, and are offensive due to their sexual nature.

For more information, including breakdowns by sex and age, and lists of data sources, see the full web report.