I knew the way the world viewed me was going to be drastically different the moment I got on the school bus (from the back where the rickety ramp was at).
The ‘bad boys’ who usually hung out here did not like me being there and really didn’t like wheelchair-users, so they started to wail into me with a barrage of hurtful words the moment the bus driver buckled me in and left. This moment goes down as one of the most sad moments of my life.
They called me “crippled,” told me I shouldn’t ride on “their bus.” I cried. And …this was one of the saddest moments in my life since breaking my neck, and not because they were so mean to me (although it was really awful). It was because my best friend, who was sitting three seats ahead of me (and overheard the entire bullying going on), ignored what was happening and didn’t say anything. I was quickly got a dose of “real life” (and have since been getting it in copious amounts).
I so wish I could go back and yell at these jerks (I was only 14 at the time and had yet to find my sass). I hate to say it, but being bullied kinda comes with the territory when you’re disabled. Disability-haters lurk more often than you think (gah makes me paranoid). When you get injured as a teenager (and especially so as a child), you get a good taste of this since (let’s say it together now) – kids can be cruel.
The reason I bring all of this up is because last week, Jack Jablonski, the 16 year old Minnesota hockey player who was injured last December, was being cyberbullied by some seriously evil people on Twitter (you can read more about it here). It always appalls me, astounds me, whenever anybody who is able-bodied bullies someone for the sole reason that they have a disability.
Haven’t we moved passed this yet? Will we ever? None of us are immune to being bullied, but this type of bullying can to be wholly damaging to the psyche. No word yet if Jack’s bullies have been hunted down and tarred and feathered (don’t put anything past hockey players who are defending one of their own).
Have you been bullied because of your disability? What did you do? Is ignoring them the best policy (or is sweet sweet revenge your style)?