Man smiling

I’ve been tipped out of my chair and punched in the face – #100days100stories

Guest post from Simon Green, as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign

My name is Simon Green, I live in Bridgend, South Wales. I have a condition called Neurofibromatosis, which along with a freak accident has resulted in me having to use a wheelchair for the past 12 years.

I am Chair of Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People, a Trustee with Disability Wales and Coordinator with the Disability Hate Crime Network.

My life changed straight away, I expected it to, but I did not expect that having to use a wheelchair would result in hostility, but sadly it did. I was verbally abused, called derogatory names and deliberately tipped out my chair, and on one occasion punched in the face. The guy who hit me used the excuse that “he didn’t think it was right for a f***ing spaz to be out with a pretty girl”.

Campaigning for changeMan in wheelchair smiling

I have spent the past few years campaigning for more awareness in relation to disability related harassment and have heard some horrific stories of both verbal and physical abuse against disabled people.

But over the last three or four years I’ve been hearing more and more about a very different type of abuse, and that’s language like ‘scrounger’ and ‘benefit cheat’, especially against people with more hidden disabilities.

And this is where I come on to politics! Now I would not for a second directly blame any politician or journalist for someone attacking a disabled person but I believe politicians and journalists need to be careful with the language they use.

The power of words

Man in wheelchair at a rally
Campaigning for change: Simon Green

The constant talk of cutting welfare, suggestions that the state of the economy is down to the number of people claiming benefits and phrases such as “Strivers verses Skivers” do not help – and can increase hostility towards the disabled community.

I get extremely angry when such comments are made as they do a huge amount of harm.

Disabled people have votes, and if party leaders want these votes they need to cut down on the inappropriate and demonising comments.

Find out more about the Disability Hate Crime Network.

For advice and support call the Scope helpline on 0808 800 3333.

Find out more about our 100 days, 100 stories campaign and read the rest of our stories so far

3 thoughts on “I’ve been tipped out of my chair and punched in the face – #100days100stories”

  1. Hi Simon I can completely relate to this despite being born disabled I was never bullied all the way through school,college or uni the amount of adult bullies I encounter amazes me. I have been told that I would have the backs of my legs kicked to make me walk even funnier, made the butt of so many jokes that were completely sole destroying . Told I should have been drowned at birth as people like me can’t give the country back anything and just take take take ( I have a great job that I have worked extremely hard to get and keep) I have been made to move on disabled spaces on buses / car parking as people my age should be able to manage disabled or not . The amount of times I have been physically climbed over when in my chair one time at hip level so I was practically straddled and then tutted at for daring to speak out . Anyway the list goes on but I really think its about time that everyone was educated about disability and actually from people with disabilities not those who think they know what we need and don’t have the foggiest maybe then a few people may just be a little kinder and realise we aren’t an alien species we are exactly the same but just work differently. Take care . Kayley

  2. Absolutely agree that recent government and media rhetoric about disability and welfare has worsened the way people are treated. It’s calmed somewhat in the last couple of years, I think as the public has started to realize the impact of cuts, but when it was at it’s height, I was regularly ‘interrogated’ by strangers asking whether I work, whether/when I would be better, what was ‘wrong’ with me. I was called a scrounger, sworn at, spat at, and on one memorable occasion, somebody came up to me and said “people like you should be put down to save my taxes”. Headlines falsely claiming disabled people are given free luxury cars, phrases like ‘strivers verses skivers’ and ‘hardworking families’, and the idea of a ‘benefit lifestyle’ have been very poisonous when it comes to how some people think about and treat disabled people.

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