Edie’s Story – ‘This was two years ago and I haven’t been out alone since, which cuts down on the risk of assault’

* When I was still using a walking stick and going out alone, a man grabbed my walking stick from next to me on the bus to give to an old lady who’d just got off the bus, then yelled abuse at me when I asked for it back.

* Incident at an airport where the employee who was meant to be pushing me in an airport wheelchair became increasingly verbally abusive, then shoved the wheelchair more and more until it went spinning in a circle.

* Two medical staff at a dentist’s surgery grabbed me to pull me out of the wheelchair when it was time for me to get into the dentist’s chair.

* A nurse at a dermatology clinic heard that I was going to go to the toilet and about to get out of my wheelchair, dived in to start taking my footplates off, then seemed affronted because that’s not how I use my wheelchair and I wanted space to move. There’s probably been other incidents with grabby people in hospitals that I’m not remembering, and certainly my A&E experiences have been grim, including being roughly dropped on the floor twice in ten minutes. I freeze up when that sort of thing happens, so I don’t know if this nurse also handled my legs. She probably started lifting them away from the footplates. 

* A stranger at a party heard that I was disabled, started telling me all about his minor medical issue (a metal plate in his finger), and kept grabbing my knee, and also taking my hand and making me squeeze his finger. I’d told him I was partnered, and I didn’t expect him to be hitting on me, so it took me a long time to realise I needed to get out of there. This was two years ago and I haven’t been out alone since, which cuts down on the risk of assault. 

* A doctor at a consultation committed minor sexual assault.

* A man saw my partner pushing my wheelchair down the street one evening and deliberately very nearly ran us down, shouting, “I’ll  put *you* in a wheelchair!” at my partner. He stopped just before he hit us, with inches to spare.

Author: Hannah Mason-Bish

Criminologist and Co-Director of Centre for Gender Studies at University of Sussex

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