Making a Difference Through Advocacy

Spring 2020 Disability RAPP: The Intersection of Disability and Sexuality

Making a Difference Through Advocacy

By Cynthia West

For Tammy Mills, it started with a public service announcement on domestic violence – and a Sheryll Woods novel with a sad backstory. It was all the impetus she needed to get the right information to the right people. As a member of the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities, Self-Advocacy Leadership Team, and People First of NH, Tammy was in a position to make a difference.

Tammy helped plan a training session on domestic and sexual violence for people with disabilities at the January 2020 People First of NH meeting. Twenty five participants – almost all of whom had firsthand or secondary experience with violence – participated.

Domestic and sexual violence has been taboo for way too long. Even now, there is a significant lack of data in New Hampshire on people with disabilities who have experienced abuse. It is imperative that the disability community is trained and knowledgeable about this very important issue. Collaboration between the disability community and the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (the Coalition), along with the people served by its 13 crisis centers, is essential for the success of both communities.

“It is so important that we have discussions, role play, and feel open to asking questions about domestic violence,” Tammy shares. “I’d like to open this training up to the general public – that’s how important this topic has become.”

Indeed, there was much to be learned. “While we conducted the training, a number of advocates with disabilities disclosed that they’d either experienced or witnessed violence in an intimate relationship in the past,” shares Linda Douglas, Trauma Informed Services Specialist with the Coalition. “We need to make sure that advocates have information on what to do, and where to go for help.”

The training session included helpful resources such as the Power & Control wheel created by Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, Duluth, MN which highlights the undercurrents, as well as the obvious signs, of domestic violence. The Duluth Model’s Equality wheel provides the opportunity to discuss positive, healthy elements of a strong, supportive, and equitable relationship.

As a result of topics that arose during this training, Marie Linebaugh, Program Director for the Coalition, will be presenting on Power and Control Dynamics with Caregivers at the Learn It! Live It! Love It! conference hosted by Advocate NH in Concord on September 25, 2020. This training will include guidance on navigating close personal relationships between people with disabilities and caregivers. Discussions will include identifying elements of healthy – and unhealthy – relationships, as well as what steps to take to get help if someone identifies that they are in a harmful situation.

Thanks to Tammy Mills, the People First training on domestic violence was a great success, and an exceptional opportunity for sincere and honest communication on an extremely difficult topic.

Crisis Help Line

How to Get Help: 1-866-644-3574

There are 13 state-wide member programs that operate 24/7 crisis lines for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The phone number listed above will put you through to a crisis center in your area.

IMPORTANT: You do not have to be physically injured to receive support from a crisis center. This line is meant to support people and provide resources. You can call even if you are not the direct victim of violence.

Spring 2020 Disability RAPP: The Intersection of Disability and Sexuality


Welcome to the newly renamed and redesigned Disability RAPP. The themes explored in each issue, like this issues’ focus on the intersection of disability and sexuality, inform us and empower us to break barriers and challenge traditional ideas of what it means to live with a disability. We updated the Disability RAPP design to be more accessible in both its print and digital formats.

Certain content contains sensitive material which may not be appropriate for all readers.

DRC-NH, in collaboration with the UNH Institute on Disability and the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities, distribute a quarterly RAP sheet to educate community members and policy makers about the latest research, policy, practice, and advocacy issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.


Latest RAP Sheet