Saturday, 5 December 2015

Walk in my shoes

Submitted by Amy Sequenzia
Originally published on Autism Women's Network

[Content warning: use of the R-word and murders of disabled people.]

(Please, read this post. What I write here is inspired – not in an inspiration porn way – by K’s post).

Every time a disabled person is murdered by a parent or caregiver, the media, and lots, lots of people sympathize with the murderers.

Image reads: I will not try on the shoes of people who see themselves as heroes, and who see me, and people who look a lot like me as tragic, burdensome and hopeless. (Image description: back ground is mottled in red black and white with the outline of a pair of flat dress shoes embossed in the background.)
The perception, which is based on false assumptions, is that our lives are miserable moment after miserable moment, that we have no hopes, dreams, or “real” feelings.

The idea that we would prefer death to living disabled is fed by ableist, and ignorant views on disabilities.

As an excuse for the attempt to erasing our value as human beings, people take the side of the murderers and martyrize them.

The expression used to justify the murderers is:

“You have never walked on their shoes”.

No, I haven’t. I will not try on the shoes of people who see themselves as heroes, and who see me, and people who look a lot like me as tragic, burdensome and hopeless.

I will say this:

I wish you had seen the shoes I was wearing when teachers called me retarded and laughed about it. I was 9 years old. Would you have tried my shoes on back then?

How about the shoes I was wearing when I was 15 years old? That’s when a doctor told a group of people that I did not have human dignity, agreeing with previous doctors who told my parents that the only hope they should allow themselves was for a “good institution” where I could be taken care of. They also said I would never be able to learn anything of value.

Where were you when some people said that I “don’t feel pain” because my face doesn’t always show how I feel? That’s when I fell on a bunch of ember and had second-degree burns on my arm. I had to listen to them saying: “It’s her fault, she wasn’t looking. Besides, look at her, she doesn’t feel anything” – because I wasn’t screaming. They could have tried on the shoes that almost went into the fire, that stopped just before going into the fire.

Why haven’t you told people to put themselves in my shoes as a non-speaking person who needs access to a device to communicate, when they were verbally abusing me, and denying me access to my chosen method of communication? They saw a smile on my face, the smile I sometimes use as a last attempt to make people see me as someone who can feel. See me as a person. As a person with shoes.

Why is it so easy for you to forget that we are human beings, while moving so fast to “walk” in our abusers’ shoes?

Why do you only see the shoes of non-disabled victims, while disabled ones are treated as the cause of our own murder?

I am still alive, obviously.

My tormentors were not my parents or people who stayed in my life for too long – but long enough to cause deep wounds, now deep scars.
Nobody thought about wearing my shoes at those sad, horrible, scary and lonely moments.

I don’t hear anybody talking about the disabled victims shoes, how the victims felt wearing the shoes for the last time before someone who they were supposed to trust murdered them.

What I hear are people erasing our experiences and demanding that we understand why murderers HAVE to murder disabled people like us. They say we need to have more sympathy for murderers.

No, I will not walk in murderers’ shoes.
I will hold my shoes, while hurting for the victims.
I will try to remind the world that the victims were human beings.

I will do that by reminding the world about the victim’s’ shoes.