Monday, 7 January 2013

Disability Witchhunt

In the past year, verbal abuse towards disabled people has increased by 41%. The governments demonisation of disabled people claiming benefits, presenting them as fraudulent, lazy and responsible for robbing a recession sunken country of its precious funds.

In a recent survey that public misconceptions about welfare have been wildly out of step with the actual figures. When asked about the proportion of the welfare budget that is fraudulently claimed, on average people placed it as 27% instead of the 0.7% that is actually estimated.

This is a context for what happened to me tonight. I was at the station waiting for a train, when a man came up to me and said:
And he said “why have you got a stick?"

I  was startled and said “pardon?" 

 “what's wrong with you?". 
“It's complicated to explain" i replied

My train had come, and I was waiting to get on it, but because he was standing between me and the train, I couldn't get on it straightaway. At that point he moved towards me, I moved back and he said aggresively:

You're not really disabled are you? Are you, are you? You're not disabled. You're one of them aren't you, you're one of them that's pretending, you're draining this whole fucking country" 

He got on the train, I didn't because I don't want to get in the carriage with him, and I sat back down at the station and burst into tears. 

My disabilities have ruined my life, they make it so hard for me to do almost everything. Every day it's a struggle, and it is terrible to be told that you are not as ill and in pain as you know you are by someone else. And it's terrible to have the government who will not believe disabled people when they tell them what they need, and what they can't do.

Picking on minority groups to divert attention from the actual problems is not something new. Jewish people, gypsies, women, gay and bisexual people have, and often still are, blamed for the ills in society. Freud says that persecution is a way of externalising your anger and hatred, by making the Other a scapegoat for the ills of society.

And I am scared: scared for myself and for other disabled people, who face loosing their income, their transport, wheelchairs, and independence and i suspect probably their lives in some cases. 

With the benefits cut back by coming in during the next year, there is going to be a witchhunt on disabled people claiming benefits. Maybe they should go back to the old way of trying people: by throwing them in water and seeing if they float. Because the way that people's disabilities and benefits are being assessed is just as ridiculous and unfair, has just as little grasp on reality, and just as little understanding and compassion and plain common sense.


  1. what an awful experience and a terrible shit. i hope that guy gets a conscience and does some real good to try and save himself.

  2. I am so, so sorry that people soak up these lies and then turn on innocent people like yourself. I'm disabled with chronic pain myself, and because of this witch hunt I find myself keeping myself much more to myself. I am honestly scared of the vitrolic aggression out there, as I figure I'm "bad disabled" in many people's eyes. The thing is, disability can hit anyone, at any time. That's because it's a disability, not a moral failing. I hope you get over this hideous encounter soon, and believe me, you are not alone. This could have so easily have happened to me.

  3. I'm so sorry this happened to you - this is the reason why I always say it is my pelvis regardless of if it is my ME or pelvis or both plus back damage. It's really bad - some people have started throwing eggs as well at people on mobility scooters.

    At parties over Christmas well meaning people told me that its the frauds that are making it bad for 'real' people like me - I don't claim benifits but they don't know that. I got weary of pointing out that there isn't that many frauds out there.

    I hope you didn't have to wait too long for the next train home.

    All the best


  4. Your experience sounds really horrible, Katie. I'm so sorry. You're right about propaganda and scapegoats.

  5. I came across your experience; someone mentioned it in a recent blog. It reminded me of how many times people have done the exact same thing, since I've been using a walking stick. I'm sorry that it upset you so much.

    I receive 'jip' quite regularly, especially when I make my 6 weekly visit to the local real ale pub. There's a group of pensioners in there that like to think up things to say to me; I answer them back nowadays. 'Just because I'm here', I said to them last time, doesn't mean I'm well enough all the time. In fact I've spent the last 3 weekends living in the toilet; I'd happily swap with you!'.

    I think it's worse the first time though, and especially when it's aggressive like you experienced. It's just the fact that people think they have the right to march up to you, in any circumstance, and demand to know 'whats up with you?' I'm sure that disabled people weren't treated like this years ago, but we didn't have social media back then, so who knows, but I do know that my friends and me were brought up to be respectful of disabled people.

    I have to use a wheelchair when I'm out now, but if my carer wheels me into a small shop, I can stand and walk a few paces to look and see what I want. I'm just waiting for the 'Little Britain' quip! I admit, it does look weird, but it's simply that I can walk, but not that far at all, and the less I have to walk, the more energy I have to be able to get around my house.

    Anyway, all the best with your blog; I rarely post on mine now; just too ill.