green: raven (stock: tired)
green ([personal profile] green) wrote2010-05-01 08:52 am

BADD post: Into the Light of Day

Warning! Post contains triggers of rape, violence, torture, and murder.

In October 2009, President Obama signed the hate crime bill into law. The media focused almost solely on what it meant for people of color and the GLBT community. CNN didn't even mention the word 'disability' in their article. But the text of the law says,

The incidence of violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim poses a serious national problem.

Emphasis mine.

Everyone knows the stories of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. by now. But do you know the following names?

Kevin Davies. Brent Martin. Laura Cummings. Steven Hoskin. Raymond Atherton. Jennifer Daughtry. Dorothy Dixon.

I wish I could tell you more about their lives. I wish I could tell you more about their familes and friends. I wish I could tell you about who loved them, and who was touched by their presence. But it is their deaths that have been reported, and in many cases their 'family' and 'friends' who did horrifying things to them. I have tried to talk about loved ones where I know details.

Kevin Davies

Kevin was locked in a shed for four months and given only potato peelings to eat. He was burned with a hot knife. He was beaten daily with a stick. He died, alone and trapped in that shed, malnourished, after having a seizure. His torturers (people he called his friends) kept evidence of their crimes in the form of video and diary entries, presumably for entertainment. They cashed his disability checks and kept the money for themselves.

The three people responsible for Kevin's death were not charged with murder for this hate crime, because it could not be proven that their actions directly caused his death. They were found guilty of false imprisonment and assault. Two of them received ten year sentences and the other a nine year sentence.

Kevin Davies had learning disabilities and epilepsy. He died at 29. He is survived by his mother, who he was forced to call and say he was 'keeping well'.


Brent Martin

Brent was beaten to death by three so-called amateur boxers, after one of the boys made a bet with the other that he couldn't knock Brent out with one punch. The three then kicked, punched, headbutted, and stamped on Brent until he was dead, calling out to others to join in. They did it for sport.

A post-mortem examination confirmed Brent died from massive head injury, and that Brent suffered from at least eighteen blows to the head and neck.

Brent had learning disabilities. He died at 23. He is survived by his mother, Brenda, who was with him in the hospital for two days after his beating. He died in her arms.

source and source

Laura Cummings

The last months of Laura's life were a living hell. She was shackled to a chair with a sack over her head daily and nightly. She was brutally sodomized with a broom handle. She was at times forced to eat her own feces. She was only allowed to sleep on the kitchen floor when she wasn't in the chair.

This happened at the hands of Laura's mother and brother. They had been reported in the past to child services, but nothing was done. They are facing 84-142 years in prison.

Laura finally died after months (perhaps years) of torture. Cause of death was suffocation. Laura had the functioning mind of an elementary school child. She was only 23. She is survived by a half-sister, who says she was also abused at the hands of her mother.

source source

Steven Hoskin

Steven was violently tortured for hours before he was murdered. He was beaten, forced to wear a collar and leash, and 'walked' like a dog around his apartment. He was forced to admit he was a pedophile for the amusement of others, a term he most likely did not even understand. His attackers spread graffiti on his walls that read 'nonce' and 'should be hung'.

After being humiliated, beaten, and laughed at for hours, Steven was force-fed 70 painkillers. He then became violently ill, but the torture did not stop. His attackers came up with a plan on how he should die: Steven was taken on a walk on top of a viaduct, and, under the influence of the painkillers, fell 100 feet to his death.

Steven had severe mental retardation, and it is said he had the mind of a six year old. He died at the age of 39.

It should be noted that a serious review was opened upon his death. “The review found that Mr Hoskin was failed by all the agencies charged with his care, with more than 40 chances to intervene in his case.”

source source

Raymond Atherton

Raymond was tortured for hours before his death by a group of teenagers who decided to take up temporary residence in his apartment. They scrawled graffiti on Raymond's walls and smoked weed in the apartment. Raymond by all accounts was kind and had a 'gentle nature', and was vulnerable to people taking advantage of his space.

Despite daily visits from social services, Raymond suffered, in the last days of his life, violent abuse and torture. Before he died, his attackers shaved clumps of his hair, urinated in his drinks, hit him, and poured bleach over him.

On the last day of his life, Raymond was beaten viciously and then thrown into the river, where he died. Detective Inspector Christine Hemingway, who ran the investigation of Raymond's death, is quoted as saying, “He couldn't say no...”

Raymond had a learning disability and problems with alcoholism. He was 40 years old when he died. He is survived by his mother, brother, and nephew. He was proud of the fact that he lived alone, and did not want to be in assisted living.


Jennifer Daughtery

Jennifer was friendly and outgoing, and posted on her Facebook months before her death that she was making a new start. “this is my time to make a new start for myself, and making some new friends and not being afraid of anything, so this is going to be a good thing for me..”

Unfortunately, the new friends she made became her torturers. Before her death, Jennifer was held against her will for 33 hours. Four to six people tormented her by shaving her head and forcing her to ingest urine, spices, oil, detergent, and drugs. They then beat her with a towel rack, vacuum cleaner hose, and a crutch.

At the end of the imprisonment, these monsters forced Jennifer to write a suicide note, tormenting her with her impending death. Then they stabbed her to death – she was stabbed multiple times in the head, neck, and chest.

Then they wrapped her in plastic and dumped her body in the parking lot of a nearby middle school.

Jennifer was developmentally disabled, and it is said she had the functioning mind of a 12-13 year old. She is survived by her mother and stepfather. She was only 30.

source source

Dorothy Dixon

Dorothy was the mother of a one year old child and was six months pregnant when she was killed. For weeks before her death, she was tortured and treated as a slave.

A woman named Michelle Riley began by stealing Dorothy's disability check to finance her own drug habit, then quickly moved on to more violent tactics. Dorothy was forced to run naked and was burned with boiling water and a hot glue gun. She was forced to play the slave for Riley, doing household chores for her and rubbing her feet. Dorothy was beaten with an aluminum baseball bat on top of being scalded, and was shot with a BB gun. She was often denied food.

Dorothy died after weeks of this abuse, and her child was taken into the custody.

To make this an even more horrendous story, Michelle Riley was supposed to help take care of Dorothy. Riley was an employee of West Central Illinois Center for Independent Living and Dorothy was a client. That's right, Riley was supposed to be helping Dorothy live a better life. Instead, she and others (two other adults and three minors were also charged in this case) killed her.

Dorothy's autopsy revealed deep tissue burns covering about one-third of her body. She was severely dehydrated. X-Rays showed 30 BBs lodged in her body. Her face and body showed signs of prolonged abuse, and her wounds were infected.

Dorothy was mentally disabled, and when she died she was only 29. She is survived by her son.

source source

Are you outraged yet? Are you sickened? Are you fearful for yourself or your loved ones? This is what ableism does.

It starts with stares and whispers, the mindset that the disabled are the 'other'. It starts with the mother pulling her child away from my daughter in the grocery store. It starts with the casual use of the words 'retard' and 'spaz'.

And it ends in so many horrific ways: Austin is poisoned by bullies in his school lunch room. George is tasered by the police. Developmentally disabled patients are beaten with hand weights and have bleach poured in their wounds.

It starts because we, as a society, shove the disabled into the corner where they don't bother the 'normal' people. It starts because as a society we view the mentally disabled as less than human. And I will say that again, in bold type, We as a society view the mentally disabled as less than human.

And it's got to stop.

We need law enforcement. We have laws in place against hate crimes now, but the crimes themselves need to be treated as hate crimes, and law officers need more education. There need to be stricter rules against bullying in schools, and more teacher supervision.

Prevention: Education of teachers, students, and employers. Better education for those who work in the disabilities field. Campaigns to educate the public. Better representation of PWDs in the media.

Self advocacy and advocacy by allies. Speak up when you see ableism, whether it be an attitude, language, or lack of accessibility at an event. Listen to PWDs when they say something is hurtful. If you have a website or a blog, make it accessible! (I admit this is not something I always do, and I vow to be better at it) Research web accessibility.

If you have better ideas than mine, and I agree that mine seem flimsy, please don't hesitate to leave a comment.
redsnake05: Jadis, Empress of Narnia, aka The White Witch (Sad: Jadis)

[personal profile] redsnake05 2010-05-01 08:12 pm (UTC)(link)
This post made me feel sick. I can only imagine how you must have felt as you wrote it. Thanks for sharing with us all.

Obviously, I don't live in the US, but, even though abuse, violence and hatred is rare here, we still have some of the other, more insidious, hatred and othering going on. Thanks for highlighting some changes that we all need to make.

[personal profile] a2zmom 2010-05-01 08:34 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't have any words only tears.
wolfshark: (Default)

[personal profile] wolfshark 2010-05-01 09:16 pm (UTC)(link)
*hugs you* Thank you for doing what you can to bring these cases to people's attention. I know how hard that was for you.

I used to work with people who profoundly developmentally delayed, who had been removed from a hospital that was shut down because the abuse was so bad. The stories of what happened to these men and women was terrifying. And at the time, there was really nothing that could be done - a woman with the mind of a six month old can't testify in court about what was done to her.

Hopefully law enforcement will enforce the law across the board, the way it always should have been done.
elucidate_this: (anya lied)

[personal profile] elucidate_this 2010-05-01 09:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh god this made me cry so much. These stories are all my worst fears for my students, the kinds of things that make me wish I could put them in protective bubbles.

Sometimes it's hard to keep going in a world capable of so much cruelty. I wish I had more power to make shit like that stop.
flaming_muse: (Default)

[personal profile] flaming_muse 2010-05-01 10:24 pm (UTC)(link)
This is an excellent post, hon. Excellent and awful all at once.
gloss: (Default)

[personal profile] gloss 2010-05-02 12:00 am (UTC)(link)
I wish I had ideas to add to yours. I can only co-sign. And weep for the courage of all these people tortured.

I just want you to know that *you* were the first person to bring my attention to ableist language, way back regarding someone's stupid icon, and in doing so - and in continuing to advocate so passionately and eloquently, as you are here - you changed the way I look at the world. Thank you so much for holding us all to a common standard of decency, generosity, and kindness.
rivlee: (tv: cm: reid wet hair)

[personal profile] rivlee 2010-05-02 02:34 am (UTC)(link)
I greatly applaud you for making this post, knowing how hard it must be. You're opening peoples eyes and minds and that is so very important. Not flimsy, mot flimsy at all.

I believe, as the twin sister of someone who is severely mentally and physically disabled, there also must be an emphasis on how we, as the family, as the care-takers, as the allies, must speak up. For people like my sister, who is mentally and physically unable to do so for herself.

Some form of federal regulation is also needed. Most parents of disabled children go through various Medicaid/Medicare programs for aid. Sadly, because most of this is done through the state, and each state uses their medicaid/medicare funds as they see fit, lots of people, and money, fall through the cracks. Not to mention all the red tape people state officials go through just to make certain someone "qualifies" for aid.

As you pointed out above, most of it comes down to education and ignorance. Outside of PWDS and their allies, people honestly, do not know. They don't know the frustation of the system, what it feels like to see grown adults recoil at the sight of someone you love, to fight over and over again for simple placement in a day program, or a school. To fight even harder against cuts to in-home healthcare and the arguments of sending your loved one to a home where they will not be properly cared for. To fight with healthcare providers who don't know how to treat PWDS.

othercat: (jame: dance magic dance)

[personal profile] othercat 2010-05-02 07:47 am (UTC)(link)
People generally make it damned near impossible to have a belief that people are basically good.
katta: Photo of Diane from Jake 2.0 with Jake's face showing on the computer monitor behind her, and the text Talk geeky to me. (Default)

[personal profile] katta 2010-05-02 07:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much for this post. I can't make any coherent contributions (I think of the wonderful - and even the not-so-wonderful - people I've known with developmental disabilities, and then I think of something like this happening and there's SO MUCH RAGE) but I want you to know that I think what you're saying is very important and very true.
eisen: Black (like a dead bug from my feet). (your hardest try is never enough.)

[personal profile] eisen 2010-05-02 10:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I did not really have the mental sanity capacity to read this today, but I read it. It hurt to read, it makes me shake with rage, but I am so fucking glad you wrote it anyway.
trascendenza: izzy from shadowhunters in bright colors. (Default)

[personal profile] trascendenza 2010-05-15 09:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for having the strength to write this.