There wasn’t much time between when I realised I was asexual and when I was diagnosed as autistic – only around a year. Ironically, the first person I ever came out to was a therapist I only saw once, when I originally began to fall into the mental health crisis causing the realisation that I was autistic. It’s been six years since then, and I’m still asked – or alternatively told – whether the two are one and the same.
In the time before Covid, being deaf in a hearing world was tricky, but manageable. Those of us living with hearing loss found ways to handle our interactions with hearing society, be that technology or interpreters. For the most part we vaulted our hurdles as naturally as walking. It meant adaptations and hard work but, in the main, we got along with the status quo.
But then the world changed with the arrival of Covid-19 and entirely new hurdles presented themselves; tall, mighty and unmovable. Our strategies had to adapt, and we were going to need help.
It’s been a tough few weeks for women, femmes and all those of marginalised genders who have experienced abuse at the hands of men.
Out of all of the hurt and pain however has come a new battle cry, a demand that we will not be treated like this again. But, unfortunately it’s something that disabled people have been largely left out of.
TW: Murder of Sarah Everard, sexual assault/harassment concerns, victim blaming. There are links to places to find support at the bottom of this article.
We are told that “statistics are human beings with the tears dried off.” Hearing about mass suffering can generate surprise and concern. But it can also desensitise. When the problem seems too big to contemplate, it can make the most personal crises feel impersonal.
In the three years ending March 2018, disabled women were almost twice as likely to have experienced any form of sexual assault in the last year (5.7%) than non-disabled women (3.0%). There is a degree of apathy that comes with numbers; they feel so far removed; we don’t see the families consumed by grief; men in the last year murdered 118 women.
TW: Racism, ableism, torture and slavery mentions
Have you ever felt like you were shouting at the top of your lungs, but no one around you can hear you? The year 2018 offered up more physical, mental and emotional pain than I never thought was possible. And some of it was at the fault of doctors who were not equipped to do their jobs.
TW: Stats about domestic violence, abuse and austerity.
Today is International Womens Day, a day when we celebrate how far women have come and how much we have left to achieve.
Unfortunately one group often left out of that is disabled women. Although we’re one of the biggest minorities, disabled women are often left out of – or not even able to access – discussions about equality.
Disabled and Sexual is a new monthly(-ish) column by Hannah Shewan Stevens which will explore all the challenges, comedy, and fun that disabled people experience as sexual beings, even while we are desexualised by a predominantly non-disabled society.
One of the most pervasive myths about disabled people is that we’re either incapable of or disinterested in sex. As a result, society desexualises us because people genuinely believe that no one could possibly find a disabled person sexy. Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re very wrong.
Trigger warnings: Suicide. Mental health disbelief. Mention of medication/addiction.
Talking about mental health is important. It’s the first step towards getting help. It helps reduce stigma. It can help you find people who can support your recovery.
But talking to the wrong people can be nothing short of disastrous. People who are dismissive. People who are laissez-faire in the extreme. People who – be they trained professionals, public figures, or strangers on the internet – give awful advice.
I don’t have the typical 18 year old lifestyle. I’ve not experienced the ‘average’ teenage years: and I won’t know what it feels like to live a standard life, probably ever.
It’s been an awful past 12 months, I don’t need to tell anyone that. For disabled people it’s not just been the threat of the pandemic that’s been weighing on our minds. Ever since lockdown was announced last year, disabled people were the first to be thrown under the bus and it hasn’t stopped.