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CCDA getting three abuse reports per month, says East

Published:Saturday | December 5, 2020 | 8:28 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


The Cornwall Combined Disabilities Association (CCDA) has revealed that, since its formation in 2014, it has been receiving an average of three reports per month of disabled persons being the victims of abuse by various persons, including family members.

In an interview with The Gleaner on Thursday, CCDA president Andrew East, who is wheelchair-bound, said the affected persons often do not come out and speak openly on such incidents, which includes cases of physical and emotional abuse and abandonment.

“We could give an average of us at the CCDA getting three reports of abuse per month, at minimum, and those statistics would be since we started the group,” said East, whose organisation serves 150 disabled persons across the county of Cornwall

“Since COVID-19, we have not gotten many reports, because people are not out as much. But we do get them, because it is meted out from family members and it is about how they [victims] are treated,” added East.

An Extra Challenge

According to him, the abuse spans the gamut, and getting support to fight the abuse is not always readily given, which makes the effort to change mindsets an extra challenge.

“It comes in different ways – verbal, physical, emotional – and even in restrictions. And sometimes the abuse is not direct, but it is in abandonment or not being seen. It is obvious in our society every day. It is just that no one seems to be strong enough to stand out about it, and when you try to enlighten persons about it, it is like a huge mystery,” said East.

According to the CCDA president, incidents of abuse against disabled persons often happen when the victims retaliate or lash out in response to previous ill-treatment.

“We have to be mindful that the behaviour of some persons with disabilities, due to these actions previously administered or meted out to them, is also encouraging some of the abuse to continue. A few of them can be aggressive in their own defence, but it always starts from the way one has been treated when one has a disability,” said East.

The CCDA’s revelation comes, ironically, during the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities’ celebration of its annual Disabilities Awareness Week, which is being held this year under the theme ‘Build back better: An inclusive society for persons with disabilities post-COVID-19’. Thursday was commemorated as International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Warren Thompson, the National Children’s Registry deputy registrar, recently told an online Gleaner forum that the cases his agency reports about the abuse of disabled children are usually cases of neglect.

“For every child-abuse report, the report states whether the child has a mental or physical disability. We rarely see cases of children with disabilities being reported with sexual abuse issues, but we mainly see cases of children with disabilities being reported for neglect, where the parents are neglecting to take care of them,” said Thompson.