What to do if you experience disability hate crime
Mark Lane talks to us about the impact of disability hate crime and what steps you can take if it happens to you.
All of us, disabled or not, need to be educated about the impact that disability hate crime has on a disabled person or persons’ health and wellbeing.
Hate crime of any kind is abhorrent. Disability hate crime is described as:
“Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim, or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability, or perceived disability.”
It includes physical attacks, physical assault, graffiti, offensive letters or abusive telephone calls. It also includes intimidation, online hostility and prejudice, obscene texts and verbal abuse - not to mention harassment and bullying at school or in the workplace. Disability hate crime has a significant impact on a disabled person or group of disabled persons. Yet it is massively underreported.
Make notes on what's happening
Alongside disability hate crime is befriending crime, where someone works their way into your life. They befriend you for a single purpose - to take advantage of you and can include working for no pay, taking control of your money and even sexual abuse or assault.
If you are a victim of a disability hate crime or befriending crime, feel unsafe, abused, undervalued, harassed or bullied, then I urge you to report it as soon as possible. Before you report it, it helps to document what happened.
Note down when and where it happened. Details like what the people looked like are also useful. Did you know them? Do they have an accent? Were/are there any witnesses, and what did you do after the abuse? Reliving these memories will be difficult. But the more information you have, the easier it is for the police and the courts to prosecute the offenders.
Reach out for support
If you need support, then reach out to organisations such as United Response. If you need a chaperone when you report it, then ask a friend, carer or family member, as long as they are not the abuser.
If the police give you a reference number, then record this somewhere. Let the police or local agencies know if you require a sign language interpreter. Tell them if you need documents in braille or another format so that you can access them with ease.
Two-thirds of the 36 police forces that provided Freedom Of Information (FOI) data ahead of this year's National Hate Crime Awareness Week reported increases in disability hate crimes in 2019/20. And to make matters worse, nearly half of the police reports involved an element of violence.
Disability hate crime destroys lives
Disability hate crime and befriending crime does not take sexuality, age, ethnicity, religion or type of disability into account. It is like cancer that grows, spreads and reproduces uncontrollably. It can destroy the lives of disabled people that come into contact with it.
All of us, disabled or not, need to be educated about the impact that disability hate crime has on a person and their health and wellbeing. We can enable disabled people, like me, to have the confidence to speak up, report hate crime and help fight against this horrendous cancer.