Understanding Vulnerability

Being vulnerable means you are at risk of being harmed. We all feel vulnerable at certain times in our lives, and we each have different reasons for our vulnerability.

The experience of being vulnerable involves:

  • Being at risk of having bad things happen
  • Having unique characteristics as a person such as being easily manipulated, being in a wheelchair, or being afraid of loud sounds
  • Facing situations such as health issues, being isolated, ageing, and not having a support network
  • Not having control over daily conditions of your own life

People with disabilities are more likely as a group to experience greater vulnerability due to factors such as less money, limited access to resources, and possibly fewer friends. They are also often more severely affected by the vulnerability they experience. This increased likelihood and greater impact is called enhanced vulnerability.

Note: A person’s vulnerability should not be confused with their disability.

Joanna has a developmental disability and epilepsy. Even with the help of medication, she has some seizures. She finds it difficult to get out and about on her own due to the possibility of having a seizure, falling, and hurting herself. This enhances Joanna’s vulnerability for physical injury, loneliness, and depression.