I had a nightmare last night.  It wasn’t the sort where there were horrible monsters or anything (my dreams are much more mundane, more the sort where no matter how hard you try you can’t find a toilet, and when you do, you can’t get the lid open, that sort of thing), but once I had woken up, heart pounding and sense of dread smothering, I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I tried to re-enter the dream and change the outcome while I was still in that semi-somnambulent state, but nothing.  All it would do was repeat itself, or expand its awfulness, leaving me with no option but to turn over and wake properly, to shake off the sense of powerlessness with the light of the morning.

It’s been a while since I had a bad dream.  Towards the end of August my dreams take on the hue of anxiety that ensures that during the early hours my subconscious is to be found attempting to tell small people things that they have no interest in and will not listen to, but this one was nothing like that.  This one involved one of my own children; Sam, to be precise.

I suppose it’s not strange when I think about it, but anxiety dreams about my children usually involve my losing them somehow.  One time, I dreamt that someone stole my car when baby Sam was still in it, and it ended when I woke up, tears spurting from my eyes at the thought that the robbers had discovered him, and left him, on the side of the motorway, on his own, cooing and tapping his little feet together happily.  This time, no one took him from me; instead he took himself away, he didn’t listen, and was lost.  And I woke up with that horrible sense of the not-quite-real.

I know this dream will repeat itself.  I know that over the next few nights, in those moments between waking and sleeping, when I could reasonably expect to lie, comfortably relaxed and drifting, I will return.  Again and again I will attempt to influence my mind, and again and again I will be defeated.  I will have to wake myself up and give myself a talking to.  It’s only a dream, I will say, stop being ridiculous, think about something else.  And me, being a well brought up sort of person, will attempt to do as I am told.

I know why it is.  I know why I am experiencing an anxiety spike.  I know why I have this feeling of loss, this sense that no matter how hard I try, that nothing will change.  I know why, when Sam rushed up the road to post his application form for a summer holiday activity day with the local RDA on his own yesterday morning, I stepped out onto the end of the drive in my raggedy old pyjamas, in full view of the neighbours and the postman, just to check that he had made it there safely, and was on his way back, all in one piece.

It’s the same reason that I cried, the day he was lost for real and I rang the police for the first time ever, all over the traffic warden and the staff from Tescos, and they cried too, when he was found, and I didn’t have to make a statement after all, or make a cup of tea for a police officer sitting politely on the edge of the sofa and explain that he couldn’t really make himself understood very well, and I didn’t think he knew his address.  It’s the reason I keep an eye on him, make sure someone is with him on the way to school.  It’s the reason that understanding what it means to have a good friend, and be a good friend, is on his EHCP.

Because, you see, the violence against disabled people, against learning disabled people is shocking.  It happens in books and films, and people think it’s romance.  It happens in assessment units and care homes, and people think it’s natural causes, the culmination of a tragedy that started the day they were born.  It happens in a hundred careless, heartless ways, and it happens with murderous, sickening intent.

It’s hate, and it’s fear.  And it frightens me.

28 thoughts on “Hatecrime

    1. Most of the time I’m fine – but then things conspire and it’s been one thing after another lately. And the thing is, he’s so lovely – such a great and funny person. I’m so glad he’s in my life, even with the early mornings.

      1. Bobby too, such a complete joy (hard work also)- so gorgeous and so flipping innocent and trusting too.
        I need to keep him little but that won’t happen!

  1. Just sending you a hug. It is a cruel world but there’s also a lot of goodness that I hope and pray will grow and grow until all this terrible and heartbreaking stuff can’t happen anymore.

    1. This is the best I can do in writing about it. What upsets me is that so many people would think the same about Down’s syndrome. 😢

      1. Yes. You created a strong visual with your pyjama hop to the gate imagery, and the tale of your anguish when Sam went missing. I think that these narratives are good to convey the feelings to help create empathy in others that is so obviously missing. The frustrating and ironic thing is, the Japanese murderer obviously had his own special needs that weren’t being met. Where do we go with it all?

      2. I don’t know. I think, for me, it *is* that thing if trying to connect with people, to understand that what I feel is part of what we all experience, and that disability, while we might hunk it only happens to other people, happens to us all.

  2. Oh *. Have to admit I hadn’t thought about this in terms of ‘the future’. As our girl is only 9, I keep trying to not think so far ahead… but it’ll be here sooner than we know it. And yes, vulnerability is a big, huge, gigantic issue that will no doubt keep me awake too 😦

    1. Now that Sam is 15, the future that once seemed so far away it wasn’t worth bothering with is rushing up alarmingly fast. Every so often, I wobble.

  3. My twins, boy and a girl both lack capacity for essential decisions and therefore I now have Deputyship for them both. It shouldn’t be necessary but violence comes in many forms; physical, emotional, and in particular through the abuse of power by institutions such as Health and Social Care Services. Their lack of Best Interest decision making and under assessment of need combined with deprivation in service provision is nothing short of tyranny. How do you protect young people from such big institutions who break laws and frameworks because budgets are more important to them than the well being of the disabled people they are supposed to serve? Who speaks up for us? I have not observed anyone in either the House of Lords or the House of Commons, or in the Media speaking up for the most vulnerable in our society. How can we claim to be civilised; a society that demonises those they should care for and cherish. Instead we have to survive a brutal and cruel system inflicted by a government lacking any moral compass.

  4. I did a talk for Victim Support once on hate/ mate crime and the research terrified me. That balance between letting go in a safe way is a very difficult one. I share your fears.

  5. Great post, Nancy – you do so much to raise awareness and to make people think and behave more sensitively. Thank you.

    (And have to say I have the toilet dream, too – what’s that all about then????)

    Hope the summer is going well for you and yours.

  6. It’s tough enough whit kids who you can reason and prepare for the walks to and from school, town etc. My fear is still there as I wait for them to come in from the pub or clubbing. However I tell myself thereally are more kinder people in the world than unkind. I hope you are OK Nancy. ((uu)) a hug from me to you.

  7. Shortly after I heard the term, “The dignity of risk” as I tried to come to terms with that concept and the balance required, I endured the worst string of nightmares I have ever had. (Except when I was pregnant – in which case i blame the life change + hormones). Anyway, I am hugging you from across the ocean. I am hugging Sam, too. I’m terribly afraid of monsters, too. Yet we continue to teach our children to live and maybe even risk, and that’s what we do. 🙂
    …also, this is beautifully written. You’re voice and story are so very clear. Keep on.

    1. The dignity of risk sounds great – until you apply it to your child-with-a-disability, for whom risks are, as far as I can see, greater.

      Thankfully the monsters don’t intrude very often.


    1. Well, I’ve written one about classroom teaching. I’d love to publish my blog in a book somehow, but I don’t really know how to go about doing it.

      1. Go for it – it’s such a powerful narrative enhanced by the duality of parent and teacher perspectives.

        Should be ITT compulsory!

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