Dealing with prejudice
Disability blogger Carrie Aimes talks about her experiences with disability hate crime.
As it is so familiar to me, and something I have endured my entire life, I became almost immune to and accepting of it. But we shouldn’t accept or tolerate such abuse.
A few years ago, whilst out shopping with a friend, a complete stranger approached me on the High Street. He gawped at me in my powered wheelchair, then, invading my personal space, told me I’m “like this” because I don’t believe in God.
I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but it is not.
I have experienced discrimination all my life
Physically disabled from birth, I have experienced a lifetime of judgement, assumptions, accusations and insults. Many times, I have been told I am a sinner, this is my punishment, and strangers have offered to pray for, and even cure me!
Tuts, disdainful stares, internet trolls, hearing that I am “in the way”, and mutters of “eurgh, look at her!” are not unfamiliar to me. And I am aware that many disabled people face similar encounters.
Hate is a strong word. Personally, I perceive it as ignorance, stupidity and a lack of awareness rather than malice. At least in my case.
Speaking out about hate crime
I have never before reported or shared my experiences with a disability hate crime. It is only through seeing others speak out, that I feel able to do the same. As it is so familiar to me, and something I have endured my entire life, I became almost immune to and accepting of it. But we shouldn’t accept or tolerate such abuse.
To eradicate such prejudice and narrow-mindedness from society, we need to inform, educate and normalise disability representation. Inclusion and greater visibility of diversity are essential in stamping out disability hate crime.