Comments and news stories on disabled bullying are frequent in the press – just search and see (here’s one from yesterday). From 2003 it has even been a hate crime, the CPS guidance acknowledging how such bullying can be disregarded. This, though, is just the tip of an iceberg that ranges from the extreme, horrifying accounts in Katharine Quarmby‘s Scapegoat to a constant, everyday grind of low-level contempt.
The problem is that whilst, like many in a similar position, I do not like to be termed ‘vulnerable’, the fact is I am. I constantly have to adapt to my pain; I have to be continually very conscious of when my arm could uncontrollably jerk, knock or spill something or tap someone. I often have to have it in a sling to take the pressure off my neck and shoulder – which is awkward in itself. Because I am in pain and because I am concerned about the lack of limb control (never mind about coping with the occasional bout of depression) any non-friendly social encounter becomes something to fear.
Yep, fear. Any inch of threatening behaviour gets me twitchy, wanting to run. Loom over me, and you make me scared; you walk into my house without being asked and I am terrified; step into my personal space and you might as well have hit me given the surge of pain that I experience from tensing up with concern.