Friday, April 19, 2019

Parking Lot Realization

You know this story.

But I need to tell it again anyways.

You see I realized something.

We parked at the grocery store and I got out. Joe was gathering bags and lists and stuff and I headed off to the store myself. I got to the curb in front of the store, paused, and began to push up. It's difficult for the first few seconds because of the steepness of the grade and because of the bumps that need getting over. But I was doing it. He came at me from straight behind me. I didn't see him. There were lots of people going into the store, lots of people around. Then I felt him. My chair was grabbed, he started pushing. Not a word had been said. I screamed, I don't usually scream, "Stop." Now everyone was watching. "LEAVE ME ALONE, DON'T TOUCH ME!!!" He started to stammer about helping, "LEAVE ME ALONE!" People looked at me as if I was rabid, people looked at him with a 'poor you' look. I pushed myself into the store.

Joe, who had heard the commotion, came and started to apologize for not being able to stop him. I was left feeling like an asshole, someone who made a scene, primarily because people were glaring at me. Glaring. And then it hit me.

Assaulting disabled people is acceptable.

Disabled people reacting to assault is not.

Now that I've calmed down and looked at my reaction. I think any other person who had someone sneak up from behind and grab them would have reacted fairly similarly. The only difference being that no one would dare to do this is broad daylight. I believe that if it had happened to someone else, the police would have been called, and people would have offered some kind of comfort.

Assaulting disabled people is acceptable.

Disabled people reacting to assault is not.

Under the guise of helping we can be grabbed, pushed, forced; we can be stripped, force fed, confined; we can have our bodies touched, we can have our voices put in restraint, we can have our protests met with punishment.


Just helping.

Assaulting disable people is acceptable.

Disabled people reacting to assault is not.


Lauralee said...

It happens all the time between staff and people supported as well. Perhaps not in every home, but too many.

I once called a manager to let them know i was doing paperwork because i had to do a physical restraint and was told no I hadn't. I argued that if it had been done to me, it sure would have felt like a restraint.... but as you point out here, the standards are different. It is only a restraint... or an assault, if the person is considered to have rights equivalent to those of people without disabilities.

And while we talk a good game, that's all it is. Talk. I am so freaking frustrated at how badly the transitions from institutions to homes in the community has gone for too many people. And at my inability to advocate effectively for the people 'supported' by the agency i no longer work for.

Girl on wheels said...

It is infruriating that most people do not see this kind of thing as assault. They do not understand that our wheelchairs are part of us, that by pushing they are taking away our ability to move freely. I know another wheelchair user who was once pushed across a road in a completely different way to the way she was going, she screamed for him to stop, she screamed at others for help. She was being kidnapped in the middle of a busy city centre and no one even stopped to ask if she was ok. I jump every time someone even bumps my chair, terrified that someone will hurt me in the desperate need to help. Now I shout “Don’t touch me!” whenever I feel or see anyone’s hands coming close. I snap “I don’t need help” and I am looked at like I am a monster for not sitting back and letting the noble able person help tragic little me. It doesn’t matter how little I need their help, obviously I am broken and only they can save me. How dare I be ungrateful!