The mental toll of disability hate crime
Posted Thursday 12 August 2010
As the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) continues its inquiry into disability-related harrassment this summer, David Stocks from RADAR shares his personal experience of the devastating consequences hate crime can have on mental health.
Find out what you can do.
The answer to that second question may well be yes, but it doesn’t address why the victim is hated or the reason the perpetrator feels the need to target that person in a vindictive way.
I was bullied at school, not an unusual story I am sure you say. However mine wasn’t physical bullying, it was verbal bullying. I was shy and withdrawn as a child and because of this I was seen as different. I was taunted with chants by most of the school, such as “they are going to take him away” or “the white van is coming”.
This, although I didn’t realize it at the time, was a form of hate crime. I was singled out and my only crime was that of being different. Luckily for me I was strong enough to stop any physical bullying, but the verbal bullying had its effect.
Disability hate crime exists purely because the victim is perceived as being different from the norm or the status quo. Rather than embracing and celebrating that difference, it is targeted by ignorant people, with long lasting and hurtful results.
In my adult life I have developed a long term bi-polar mental health condition. My insecurities come to a head in the massive mood dips I experience as part of the cycles of this condition. These insecurities may well root back to my childhood and the verbal abuse I suffered at school.
Now that I have a mental health condition, I remain the target of the ignorant. I am still considered by many as mad, not quite right in the head. While presenting many barriers in my life, it hasn’t stopped me being successful. I have published three books and I am currently finishing my fourth, with a further two books in the pipeline. I have had a successful IT career. I have spoken in Parliament and at Party conferences. I have coached tennis and won many trophies. I have appeared in the national press, on the radio and TV. Not bad for someone they call mad.
Disability hate crime has to be stopped. It is targeting brilliant people just trying to get on with their lives. It can have a profound effect on their mental health. Yes, hate crime has it physical scars, but it is the mental ones that can have most effect. Mental wounds are hard to dress and take a long time to heal.
Let’s stop disability hate crime now. Through the empowerment and leadership work I do with RADAR, I help people with Injury, Ill Health or Disability (IID) to achieve their ambitions; doing things differently. Now is the time to show the world what we can do and take more action to stop other people’s lives being irreparably damaged by disability hate crime. There is no excuse for disability hate crime, together we can stamp it out!
Mind is responding to the EHRC’s inquiry – but we need people to share their experiences directly with the EHRC so the voices of people with experience of mental distress are heard by decision-makers. You can respond to the Inquiry here before 10 September or share you story with Mind directly by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
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