Lena’s Story – ‘I heard her say to her friend “did she just tap me?” and glare at me as if I had assaulted her’

I had an accident in 2017 and have ongoing health conditions including vocal cord damage. My voice is very quiet and gravelly. I went to a concert earlier this year and was returning to my seat with a drink in one hand. There were several people standing around watching the concert. In normal circumstances I would have said out loud “excuse me please”, but because of the voice loss I have I knew that nobody would be able to hear me because of the music playing. I tapped one girl on the shoulder to get her attention and gestured that I would like to pass. I heard her say to her friend “did she just tap me?” and glare at me as if I had assaulted her. I tried to explain that I have lost my voice so I could not ask her verbally to let me pass. I do not know if she heard of understood me but I walked passed and went back to my seat feeling frustrated that my actions were considered rude and arrogant. I tapped her shoulder in order not to barge past rudely. So it seems that disabled peoples behaviour also on occasion involves unwanted touching and is considered inappropriate. 

Author: Hannah Mason-Bish

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

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