Disability Liberation Project

April 2015: API Chaya launches The Disability Liberation Project to highlight the value and brilliance of people with disabilities in our communities while exploring the intersections of disability with domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

Did you know that 1 in 5 people lives with a disability? That means everyone reading this either has or knows someone with a disability. A disability can be a physical, developmental, intellectual or cognitive difference or it can be a chronic and life-impacting mental or physical health condition.

Because people in many cultures view at disability as something negative (something that makes  a person 'lesser than', something to be pitied, a curse), some people don't identify with the term disability. People with less apparent disabilities may be encouraged to hide the ways their bodies or minds are different by friends and family who are afraid they'll face discrimination in the workplace or school or when looking for a marriage/romantic partner.

Immigrants, people of color and/or bisexual, transgender, lesbian or bisexual people with disabilities often face multiple barriers to accessing adequate healthcare, education, housing, employment, and community support. People with disabilities are also at increased risk* of being targeted with emotional, verbal, physical or sexual violence and/or labor exploitation.

Finally, many people without disabilities who experience domestic or sexual abuse and/or trafficking in childhood or adulthood become disabled by the lasting physical and emotional impact of trauma. However, few programs that address trafficking or domestic or sexual violence have a deep understanding of issues related to disability - especially as they impact folks who are limited English speaking, GLBTQ, immigrants and/or people of color. We want to change that!

We’re starting the conversation by asking questions like:

  • What if we stopped looking at disability as a deficit but as a normal part of human diversity?
  • What if the problem lay not in the disabled person but the society that devalues, excludes, and discriminates against them?
  • What if we believed that disabled and deaf people, especially people of color and LGBTQ people, held great wisdom, insight and leadership that could benefit us all?
  • What are the intersections between domestic violence, sexual violence, labor exploitation and trafficking and disability?
  • How can we create vibrant, loving communities that embrace, value and support people of all abilities?

Living in a society saturated with negative attitudes about disability, we all have a lot to learn. We're learning as we go and we’d like to learn with and from you. We're starting small - networking with folks in the field of disability services and activism, hosting and cosponsoring events and trainings here and there. Stay tuned for upcoming events.

Please contact us if you're interested in getting involved (especially if you're a LGBTQ and/or immigrant or person of color with a disability)!


1. 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime (Stimpson & Best, 1991).

2. Only 3% of sexual abuse cases involving people with developmental disabilities are ever reported (Valenti-Hein and Schwartz, 1995).

3. Children with disabilities are approximately 3 times more likely than children without disabilities to be sexually abused (Vera Institute Report, March 2013)