"I have risen from the ashes", the speaker is a woman we will call Teresa because she wants to remain anonymous. She lives alone, is 45 years old and has a physical disability of 78%. He gives his testimony to La Vanguardia to denounce that women with disabilities also suffer male violence.
Teresa speaks with some difficulty, although she makes herself understood. He gets around in a chair, but is able to pick himself up and move around the house without using it. He has double vision and glasses are his best allies. In addition, he has movement difficulties on the left side of his body. A decade ago he acquired the disability caused by a brain operation, after three strokes in two years. "It's a very difficult grief, but you get back up, and so you get it, you run into a society that treats you like you're stupid."
Teresa acquired the disability at the age of 35, and her voice - she says - has been worth less since then. Then, his support was his partner, in addition to his family. "I told him to leave me, that I was no longer worth anything."
The relationship went through several stages until the violence escalated. "He despised me, made me feel small and spoke badly of me". Added to these behaviors is the fact that he suffered gaslighting, a type of psychological abuse in which the abuser makes the victim question his own reality.
Women with disabilities are more at risk of gender-based violence due to social vulnerability and invisibility, among other things. "Women with disabilities have not even been identified as women, and this gives rise to the misconception that we have a shield against violence", says Ángeles Blanco, Cermi Mujeres legal advisor.
In addition, the idea that they cannot have a partner is very established. This is reflected by Isabel Caballero, the organization's coordinator: "It is in the social imagination that the man who is with a disabled woman is a good man, who sacrifices part of his life to be with a non-normative woman ".
At first, I felt that it was happening and that it was an "exaggeration". When she talked about it with a friend, she realized she was being abused. Following a health problem, he decided to put an end to the relationship, and started looking for an apartment. "I couldn't find anything. The bathtubs were not accessible, the chair did not fit in the elevator, there were no ramps at the portals...". He admits that owning another flat with his ex was the only option left to him.
Teresa reveals that she is "privileged", both to have a housing resource and to have a family and social environment that believes in her and supports her. Unfortunately, most of the time this is not the case.
The lack of accessibility is another factor that discourages reporting. "There are women who can't verbalize what is happening to them because they don't have orality and we still don't have specialists," explains Caballero.
The abuse has caused Teresa post-traumatic stress and panic attacks. Despite everything, he reveals that he feels good and that he is now happy. In addition, he claims that he has a relationship of "maximum and mutual respect" with his ex, who says that he has realized the harm he has inflicted on him. "The first thing he lets me know is that he doesn't want to get back with me and that he just wants to repair the damage."