Sarah's experience of online hate crime
Sarah shares her experience of online hate crime.
The online abuse meant that some days I struggled to get out of bed and face the day.
I have received online abuse due to having Aspergers Syndrome. People online have accused me of lying about my Aspergers and claiming benefits when they deemed I shouldn’t be, and they told me they’d report me for it. They have even made hurtful comments about my appearance and have gone so far as to insult my parents, who they know nothing about.
Most of the abuse was on Twitter and spanned over five years; it mainly stemmed from the fact that I would tweet celebrities I was a particular fan of and they would reply to me. People didn’t take kindly to it and would accuse me of being a stalker and that I should be ‘sectioned’.
The online abuse meant that some days I struggled to get out of bed and face the day; I ended up with depression and even felt suicidal. Although I reported it to Twitter, they deemed the tweets as free speech and did nothing about it, even when I told them I felt suicidal as a result of the comments.
I ended up changing my Twitter username a number of times in order to escape the bullies but somehow they would always find my new handle and start bullying me again. I ended up blocking over 30 Twitter accounts, but at some points I had a new account bullying me every day.
Lack of prosecution
Our latest research has found more than 5,000 disability hate crimes were reported to police in 2018/19 yet few cases result in prosecution.