I'm struck that for many many people me included the fear of being targeted is real and sadly for many its a reality. Especially living with an invisible illness - before i had to use a stick full time i was tutted at and often ignored if i asked to sit in the disabled seats on buses - I was once asked why?
Explaining i couldn't stand up and needed it only elicited scorn and i was so embarrassed i wanted to curl up and cry. No one helped and everyone looked away. It seems so many look away and don't stand up for others, I notice now I do use a stick its easier like i have a badge "see look at me the flowery stick user I'm legit now"
So how did we end up in this state of affairs, hate crime has increased 100,000 disabled people were victims in 2009/10 I found this very helpful video talking about it Disability Hate Crime I don't have time to go into all the whys and wherefores of why this has increased, the report i read yesterday commissioned by the MS society Fighting Back - Ms Society Report can perhaps point to one of the many reasons.
One of the saddest and most shocking stat is that 1 in 4 (24%) think disabled people exaggerate their symptoms. I really shouldn't be shocked anymore - but I am. Disablism is alive and well in our modern tolerant society. The report also says that even people aware of MS have similar attitudes
So what has this got to do with a Blue Badge* and an invisible Illness, lots as it happens. I am seeing more and more anecdotal evidence of people fired up about protecting disabled parking spaces for the "real" disabled people*
You could say its misguided they think they are doing a good thing, yet show such a pathetic lack of understanding and out dated attitudes of what constitutes disability all they are doing at best is isolating people further and at worst perpetuating the myth that you are only disabled if you use a wheelchair and are paralysed in someway. Everyone else it seems is exaggerating and lying.
I wish I could say I'm shocked but I'm not anymore. The fear this kind of behaviours generates is palpable, I only breath a sigh of relief when LM gets my wheelchair out like its a symbol of "see I am disabled and need it" how bloody appalling is that.
I wish I had lots of quotes from people hassled, spat at, pushed, shoved, verbally abused for daring to use a Blue Badge and parking legitimately in a parking spot. Yet this go unchallenged, aided and abetted by society the don't look, don't say culture of not stepping in to protect others is a sad indictment of us.
"on the way home I popped in to get my little 83 year old friends shopping list and was met on return to my car by a very obnoxious man.. long story but once again - you don't look disabled came into conversation.. this really upset me"
"I have MS and I am 42 sadly I dont look disabled ( well I dont have a wheelchair!) and get shouted at quite a lot! even had an old fella standing in the disabled bay I was trying to park in shouting that I couldnt park there! and recently on leaving asda ( I quite often take my son in his wheelchair there after school!) the girl asked me if I had a parking ticket to be refunded, I said no and she glared at me and told me in no uncertain terms how disgusted she was with my for using his badge! I wasnt it was my badge in the car his is in the kitchen cupboard! dont think she belived me and to be honest sick of having to defend myself from every expert who dont know a thing!"
2 quotes from people with invisible illnessesAssumptions are dangerous and make an ass of us - I have learnt to ask for help and 90% of the time i am treated with courtesy and help. There is a vast spectrum of what it means to be disabled or impaired, or sick or struggling or what ever term you choose to use.
Even on here i worry about what to say am I chronically sick? or because my illness will never go away and this half life is as good as it gets am I now disabled? i don't know and perhaps that's some of the problem.
If we don't educate and challenge ourselves and people we know about our illnesses and watch what we say how on earth are we ever going to educate anyone else.
Disablism is both a problem for us and our problem, we are members of society yet I know I'm as guilty as anyone of making assumptions and judgements of people I know nothing about. are you?
*Blue Badge is only awarded to people who either have High Rate Mobility and therefore cant mobilise (walk) more than 50 metres either at all or without severe discomfort and pain or now have a medical to see if they met the criteria.
*Real Disabled people - I have no idea what one is but its something i see all to often from the government to people shouting at vulnerable people in car parks