Disability hate crime has left me feeling unsafe
Charlotte* and her son have both experienced hate crime because of their disabilities. She tells us about her experience.
This repeated suffering of hate crime has led me to feel unsafe in my day to day life.
Hi, I am Charlotte, and I have a hidden disability, and my son has autism. We have both suffered from multiple experiences of disability hate crime, with the whole family targeted as a result of our disabilities. We have experienced this both from neighbours as well as at my son’s school.
A local family is responsible for a large part of the verbal abuse and harassment we face. It has a significant impact on all of us, and we considered moving to get away from the situation due to the emotional impact it was having on my children.
"They belittle you and make you feel shameful."
My concerns were not taken seriously
Due to my son having autism, both he and my daughter were targeted and bullied. We had to move them to a new school to escape the verbal abuse and harassment.
My son, Joe, faced further hate crime while at college and was physically assaulted on multiple occasions. I sought advice and support from the Head of the school as I feared for my son’s safety and health. Unfortunately, my concerns were dismissed and not taken seriously.
"It was very much a case of, boys will be boys. They dismissed the reasons for their behaviour."
When the school didn't take the situation seriously, I resorted to contacting the police, as I saw the effect it was having on my son. No one should be made to feel this way by others because of their disability.
Yet again, I was not taken seriously and dismissed, despite Joe still being unsafe and experiencing hate crime whilst also continuing his education.
"I rang the police and spoke to a few different officers and had to keep chasing them because they didn't take it seriously."
Feeling unsafe in day to day life
Eventually, an officer recognised that this was a hate crime. The boys responsible for the abuse were suspended, but it was still a traumatic experience for myself and my family.
This repeated suffering of hate crime has led me to feel unsafe in my day to day life. I have a disabled parking badge as I am entitled to one, but I choose not to display it in certain situations as I have faced harassment and verbal abuse in the past. I am often told I am not disabled enough to park in disabled spaces, despite having a hidden physical disability.
"I have been targeted and told I should not park in disabled areas because I’m not disabled enough."
I do not want anyone to experience the trauma myself, and my family have and want schools to do more to raise awareness of disability hate crime.
We need to act now to improve life for our children.
*The names in this blog have been changed for anonymity.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of hate crime and would like to share their story, please get in touch with Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need support with an ongoing hate crime, please contact Victim Support Wales at: email@example.com.