Getting Away With It

How depressing – new research from the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University found that employees with disabilities are twice as likely to be attacked at work and experience higher rates of insults, ridicule and intimidation.

Sadly, I am not surprised, given my own experience (read more here).

The research shows 12.3% of people with disabilities or a long-term illness were humiliated, gossiped about and ignored, compared to 7.4% of people without disabilities.

Similarly, 10.5% of disabled people had been attacked at work, compared to 4.5% of non-disabled people.

Any bullying at work is unacceptable, but the bullying of people struggling to make a living whilst coping with the challenges a disability brings is simply heinous. Why does this happen? Does it start in the school playground when anyone ‘different’ is singled out for ridicule – the child with glasses, the kid with spots?

A bully is essentially a weak person exerting power and authority over those they deem even weaker than themselves to boost their own fragile ego. The person being bullied may find it harder to fight back if they are also disabled or have a long-term illness – in my case, I was adjusting to my diagnosis of MS, the implications it would have for my life, family and career and also going through Alemtuzumab treatment. At times it felt as if I was fighting a war on several fronts.

Why did I put up with this treatment? The daily humiliation tore at my soul and took me down to the darkest depths of despair. One evening, shortly before I was sacked, I sent The Teenager to a friend, sat on my sofa and cried myself hoarse. I was utterly defeated and broken. I had reached my absolute limit. Three people had systematically destroyed my self-confidence and belief in myself in a way no diagnosis of MS ever could.

I stayed as I was determined to remain in work, at least until I found a better job. I accepted the treatment meted out to me, I plastered a false smile on my face which barely hid my pain. Inside I was dying. Five months on, I am slowly rebuilding myself. The damage has run deep, the humiliation deeper.

I will return to my former self and I will be stronger.

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4 thoughts on “Getting Away With It

  1. Samantha Thompson says:

    Pleased to hear that xxx. You are so much better than all of them put together and that is an understatement.
    This opens up a can of worms for me in terms of the Government, benefits and society.
    I have got major issues with MS, DLA and Miss I’m alright Jack McVey. I am working on a letter to my MP, I am soooo angry at what is happening. Your post has added fuel to that fire, so thank you.
    Until society embraces us and realises that we all walk a very fine line between good health/ill health, disabilities, the whole big area that covers, this Government will never ever get what they want. How much longer can they close their eyes to all the suffering, where has empathy gone??
    Sorry for ranting.
    Sam xx

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hey there Sam!
      How are you doing? Feel free to rant away – this is a ‘Rant Approved Zone’!
      You make an excellent point – and something I was going to discuss soon – that there is a very fine line between ill health and good health. I don’t know anyone who is 100% ‘healthy’. People have diabetes, asthma, mental health issues, a sore back, eyesight problems, etc. At what point do you tip over in to being disabled and aren’t we all disabled to some degree.
      I need support to stay in work, to bring up a well adjusted child and to cope with the extra costs MS brings (and there’s many!!).
      This government is blaming EVERYTHING on disabled people, conveniently sweeping tax reforms for the rich under the carpet. Tax avoidance is rife. And yet they pick on the little guy, eking out a miserable existence.
      Blimey, I’m ranting now….. But, suffice to say, if the bullying of disabled people STILL goes on in this day and age, how much are the government’s policies encouraging this?

  2. That IS depressing research, and I feel for anyone who goes through it. My husband and I talked about workplace bullies – specifically the boss. Our conclusion was it takes a special kind of person to *want* to be a boss (and let me hasten to say that not all bosses are bad; I’ve had good ones), but the BAD ones — the bullies — are quite likely the ones who picked on other kids at school because deep down they felt inadequate. Such a shame that these people end up having power over others.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      It’s pretty grim. I’ve had good bosses to, but you don’t realise it til you get a bad one! And there’s bad and there’s truly awful.
      The problem I had, I was so isolated in a small office, with no other co-workers to talk to. So I felt there was no support out there. It was only after I was sacked that I realised there were plenty of sources of help and that this behaviour was not rational! Nobody should be treated that way.

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