People with disabilities constitute the single largest underserved population in Colorado. In 2016, people with disabilities constituted 7.2% of Colorado’s total population living with a diagnosed disability, though this number is likely low due to strict regulations around access to SSI/SSDI. In 2016 and 2017 alone, nearly 19,000 died waiting for SSDI funds.
In Colorado, and across the nation, people with disabilities are statistically and systemically more likely to experience abuse. Reports suggest that abuse against a person with disabilities is more intense and longer-lasting. The National Crime Victims Survey (NCVS) reports that people with disabilities experience abuse at between 40% and 90% depending on the type of disability. People with disabilities experience abuse at such a high rate due to perceived vulnerability associated with disabilities, and never because of the disability itself. We live in an ableist society where people with disabilities are often devalued, not seen as credible, and many times isolated. Abuse of people with disabilities is underreported, often unprosecuted, and even more often goes unpunished. Click here to learn more about abuse, and here to learn more about disability.
The Movement Advancement Project estimates there are 203,795 LGBTQ+ adults living in the state of Colorado, about 4.6% of our population. LGBTQ+ communities, particularly Black, Indigenous, queer and trans people of color, experience abuse - both interpersonal and institutional - at very high rates, and many systems set up to support survivors of abuse do not take into account diverse LGBTQ+ histories, unique dynamics in LGBTQ+ relationships, or specific barriers LGBTQ+ people face accessing services.
The Initiative serves people of all genders and all sexual orientations. We work to center Black, Indigenous, people of color, and disabled LGBTQ+ people in our advocacy, and to understand what accessing safety, self-sufficiency, justice, and healing means to these communities.
At The Initiative, we believe that gender and sexuality are infinite, not binary, and are fluid, not static. We believe that reflecting back the language and pronouns that people use to describe themselves is a necessary way to create safe, affirming, and liberating communities.
At this moment, it is critical to consider culturally responsive advocacy in a way that is intersectional, dynamic and centers the voices of impacted communities in their own liberation. In Colorado, Latino/x communities comprise 21.5% of the population, making it the state’s largest racial and ethnic minority group. Living at the margins of systems of power can, in and of itself, create barriers for Latino/x communities to reach safety, self-sufficiency, justice, and healing. When considering additional marginalized identities, such as disability, rurality, and interpersonal and institutional violence, these barriers compound and become ever more complex.
In working side-by-side with, and listening to, Latino/x communities, The Initiative recognizes four main barriers when Latino/x communities seek services. These barriers include lack of accessible information, the internalization of patriarchy and values of familism, documentation status, and racist and xenophobic stigmas attached to Latino/x communities. It is imperative that Latino/x survivors of abuse receive services that meet them in their unique experiences, identities, and complex histories.
Rural communities face unique barriers to safety, self-sufficiency, and services, including fewer comprehensive and accessible services in rural areas, the lack of privacy in close-knit communities, and ruralism, a form of discrimination held by urban institutions and advocates towards people in rural areas.
13.8% of Colorado’s population live in rural communities, spread over 104,185 square miles. 17.7% of Colorado’s rural population identifies as having a disability, compared to 11.8% of Colorado’s urban population.
The Initiative's Rural Program aims to make victim services more accessible to rural areas, and to provide trainings on accessibility and disabilities to existing service providers. Our rural advocacy is often collaborative, and always driven by the client's needs and goals.