I was assaulted for using an accessible toilet
My name is Jenni. After Breast Cancer treatment, I was left with mobility issues and chronic fatigue which affect my day to day life. I started travelling as I realised how short life can be and I wanted to see the world. I set up Travel to Recovery, a travel blog to offer tips and advice to other disabled people on how travel is still possible. I want to encourage everyone to live their travel dreams.
I am in my 30’s and when I am not having treatment I look well. Not all disabilities are visible. I must admit before I had cancer treatment, I might have looked at some people and thought there was nothing wrong with them. Now I am more aware of disabilities, I am a little ashamed of how I might have perceived others in the past, but I know I would never have intervened and stopped them from using any disabled facilities. For a start is it none of my business and secondly in this day when people who have disabilities do not sit and hide at home but try and get on with daily life, you never know someone’s circumstances.
I have had people stopping me from going into disabled toilets. I have a radar key, I have a blue badge, I have incontinence issues and when I need to go, I need to go. Sometimes when I use a walking cane nothing is said but if I go in without mobility aids, the looks I get are hurtful.
I know people are thinking I am not entitled to use these amenities and I wish more than anything that I didn’t have to use disabled facilities but sometimes I do.
One day I was desperate for the toilet. My medication can cause chronic diarrhea which is embarrassing enough but as I opened the toilet door a lady hung onto the door handle shouting “you have no right to go in there, this is for people who are in wheelchairs”. She was screaming at me in a hysterical manner: I was actually a little worried for my safety I thought she was going to attack me.
At first, I was in complete shock. I get self-conscious as it is using disabled toilets, but to have someone shouting at me and then people walking past having a good old stare I felt so humiliated. I had to get her off the toilet door before I had an accident and my main concern was getting into the toilet, so I just shouted “I have cancer and I am about to **** myself”, and I managed to pull the door shut.
Luckily I got to the toilet in time, but as the situation hit me I got really upset. I was alone, and I didn’t want to go outside in case she was still waiting for me or if there were other people ready to shout at me. What right does anyone have to humiliate someone like that?
It made me self-conscious for quite some time. I don’t use disabled toilets unless I need to, but people need to change their attitudes. Just because someone doesn’t look disabled, it doesn’t mean they’re not.
Have you had similar experiences with accessible toilets? Do tell us about it in the comments below!