Monday, May 27, 2013

Street Torture

What I saw

She was unhappy and upset. She struggled against the straps that held her in. Her protests were not heard, not noticed, by the two young people who where pushing the wheelchair down the street. I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car, unable to do or say anything to anyone. I wanted to protest.

Do people forget that they can be seen? That what they do, they do in full public view?

Do people know that they can be seen but figure that no one will care if what they do they do to someone who permanently resides with two labels slapped on their forehead - 'other' and 'lesser'?

What I saw

It was clear that the woman with Down Syndrome, riding in the wheelchair, did not have a physical disability. She made it clear with her protests. She called out that she didn't need the wheelchair. She called out that she wanted to walk. She called out that the tight belts hurt. She kept making like she wanted to stand up in the chair.

The two youngish people with her, I am assuming paid care providers of some kind, were walking side by side, talking and laughing. One of them pushed the wheelchair and the other walked along side the 'pusher.' They were obviously enjoying the day, the sun, the bustle on the street. The woman that they were pushing, the woman who was strapped into the chair, existed in a different world completely, as if she was there by chance in front of her.

What I think About What I Saw

When I am pushed, by Joe, or by a friend, I never feel as if I am alone with a human motor behind me. It's hard to chat and talk sometimes but we do anyways. It's clear to me, and to anyone watching, that we are out together, that we are part of a social unit.

I sometimes see people in wheelchairs who are pushed, alone in the world, by someone who is simply doing a job. Getting someone from here to there, with no connection - the chair could be a wheelbarrow full of straw, a lawn mower, a grocery cart.

A wheelchair can be an isolating experience.

What I'm Guessing About What I Saw

Some time in the past someone made a decision, for some reason, that it would be easier to have the young woman with Down Syndrome ride in a wheelchair pushed in front than walk along side. There may have been a reason other than convenience - and if there was - it was clear that she did not consent to this decision. It was also clear that the two young staff didn't care that she was in distress. It was clear by their casual chat and laughter with each other that they were USED to this.

What Was More Concerning

Those that noticed her distress seemed to look sympathetically to the staff and with annoyance at her.

Those Two Damn Labels

'Other' and 'Lesser' are the labels we should be worried about ... because they are the ones that make abuse acceptable.


Anonymous said...

Dang, that feels like a big drawback and as a reminder, that we keep on keeping on.

I do not know how I would have reacted confro ted with this situation.

What would you have done Dave?


Merideth Marton said...

Hi David, I just want to say, that since being exposed to your views, I have had a lot of "wow" moments, none the less I am so thankful to be introduced to your writings, wish it were compulsory for every human to read. You have a way of making people think...maybe some will never get it, but I am thankful that you are fighting the good fight, for the betterment of all.
If nothing else, I pray that this battle will become one for all and we can put abuse to an end, once and for all! Keep on writing!

Anonymous said...

Dave, Do you have any way of knowing where the people were from.

That is abuse that needs to be reported.

n. said...

"Do people know that they can be seen but figure that no one will care if what they do they do to someone who permanently resides with two labels slapped on their forehead - 'other' and 'lesser'?"

pretty sure this is it.

S. Bogart said...

David... thank-you for sharing this experience with us. I will certainly be sharing it as I feel it carries an important message about labels and about others determining the self worth of someone who they is "lesser". This kind of story makes me want to cry. The fact that folks do not consider the person first makes me angry.

liebjabberings said...

There IS something you can do: take a picture, even a video.

Most of us carry a cell phone with us.

People do things because they can get away with them - if they think they are being monitored, they behave differently. Sometimes even better.

If necessary, it serves as proof.

CL said...

I think you're exactly right that the women were ignoring her because they are used to this happening. They probably stick clients in the wheelchair and ignore their protests all the time, so that they can pretend like the person isn't there and have a nice chat with each other. It's horrible.

I've seen parents do this with their children. Everyone else is looking at them, baffled that they are chatting as though they can't see or hear their screaming child. I think people reach a point where they don't want to deal with them because it's difficult or simply because it takes energy -- they want to pretend they're out alone with a friend.

Of course it's wrong for parents to ignore their kids, but treating an adult this way is even worse. How hard could it really be to let her walk and participate in the conversation? Not doing this shows a level of contempt for her that is scary.

CapriUni said...

I wonder how many of the passersby just assumed the so-called "caregivers" were cheerful with each other that they must also have been kind-hearted toward the woman in the wheelchair, and obviously, they had strapped her down solely for her own good.... And so this woman must therefore be an ungrateful wretch.


Just Heidi said...

So much for "Inclusion" and treating individuals affected by disability with "Dignity and Respect" -something every Support Worker should be promoting in every action they do throughout their day. (Both on and off the clock.)Incidents such as this make my blood boil and what angers me further is that this is not an isolated incident and likely one of the few outings this client gets. I wonder if this could be considered as kidnapping? (Holding someone against their will?)

Glee said...

This is why I will NEVER NEVER call paid support workers "carers". They call themselves Carers, put a halo on their own heads, take all the praise, polish their own halo and let other ignorant and patronising people polish it for them too. Sickening.

Carers are loved ones who support us for no pay or a small Government allowance. And not all people have (or want) family to be their carers.

Carers do not ever get to knock off and go home!

TMc said...

It highlights the difference between in the community and of the community. Service workers often think community is a place, they don't understand its a connection based on equality.

Anonymous said...

This is awful :-(

The comment about parents and children I don't necessarily agree with, and can be something quite different - there are other reasons why a parent might choose to ignore a child who is screaming/crying (for example, if they are screaming because they want to do something which they can't do for safety reasons)