At our law firm, our attorneys are dedicated to the protection of people with disabilities, including those with life-long developmental, mental health or physical impairments; those who become disabled from illness or injury later in life; and older Coloradans facing dementia, physical frailty and other vulnerabilities related to advancing age. As part of our advocacy, we help individuals, families and professionals prevent, detect and respond to abusive situations.
Approaching vulnerability from a position of strength and capability
“Treat People Like People” is the name of a new campaign in Minnesota aimed at preventing abuse of persons with disabilities without simply focusing on their vulnerabilities. Kicked off in November, the initiative of two state advocacy agencies is a statewide campaign to combat abuse and neglect but emphasizing that people with disabilities are people first with fully realized hopes, dreams, opinions and voices.
According to an article in Disability Scoop, the state of Minnesota alone receives many thousands of allegations annually of abuse of people with disabilities. The campaign aims to take a different approach in its stance against such violence – to emphasize that people with disabilities are “fully realized, fully informed and fully engaged people,” to quote the head of the marketing firm tasked with creating the campaign.
Focus on those responsible for offenses
The campaign aims to reach care providers, including care staff and family members. Unfortunately, abusers are often people known to victims with disabilities.
Roberta Opheim, the Minnesota ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, and one of those responsible for the campaign, says the goal is “to promote the idea that people with disabilities are part of the essential fabric of society, are not ‘the other,’ and deserve to be treated the way you and I want to be treated.”
This philosophy is of course relevant and powerful here in Colorado as well.