The Consequences of Ableism

Recently I started a series all about ableism after I experienced a pretty awful situation. If you want to catch up - find out here what I mean by ableism first of all. Now, continuing this conversation, today I wanted to talk about the consequences of ableism. Some people reading this may think it’s a similar pattern: 

Something bad happens > you process it > you move on

But, actually there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s many I could give you - but, let’s take the examples I used in the previous blog to help us. 


I could be shopping trying to find a dress for my next outing or in a club dancing with my friends. I’ll look up and notice straight away the nudges to friends, the smirks my way and even outright pointing at times. I do my best to ignore it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I can’t help but say something if I feel they’re old enough to know better. 

The consequences of this is feeling ashamed, embarrassed and wanting to leave a situation. I suddenly forget what I’m supposed to be doing and turn into fight or flight mode. I’m wondering if I’m safe, what’s going to happen next or if I’m going to be filmed and published online. All of these feeling can lead to severe anxiety. It also creates a sense of loneliness, because it's very hard to communicate this happening to the people you’re with. You don’t want to admit what you see, you don’t want to suggest you’re not having a good time or put pressure on them to do something. So usually I go red and turn around to try and get out of their eye line. 

A Pat on the Head

This usually happens in places where the older generation are (sorry to those who fit that category reading this - I know you probably wouldn’t do this… i hope ha). They may tell me I’m inspirational or that they “couldn’t do it” if they were me.

The consequences of this leads to a few things. One - a lack of personal space. Being patted on the head is an invasion of space which is something I don’t like. As it’s hard to get out of the way in these situations - it’s important to give wheelchair users their space to move freely. There’s obviously a lack of dignity with being patted on the head. As a 30 year old it’s embarrassing to be celebrated by simply being out in society. This action to me suggests an assumption that someone else sees themselves as someone who can judge and tell me when I’m “doing well” in life. There’s a weird power imbalance both physically and metaphorically. Ultimately this can lead to lack of self esteem as you read from this action that people pity and feel sorry for you for simply smiling and doing day to day things. 

Dangerous Abuse

I won’t go too much into this as you can probably imagine the consequences to this. However, as a disabled person - I’ve realised only recently how much I do to keep myself “safe”. If I see a group of men coming toward me, I’ll enter the nearest shop to find safety. If I have a delivery to my house, I’ll go to the front of the flat so my safety isn’t compromised by a stranger pushing into my flat (which did happen once). All of these things mean I have a lack of trust in people. I assume the worst most times when I’m out on my own. I’m always on guard and preparing to protect myself. 

All of these examples lead to a lack of confidence, for me. There’s days where sometimes I just don’t want to do “people”. The energy needed to tackle these situations, smile, keep people happy, be expected to educate when questioned all whilst tackling normal everyday activities can sometimes feel just too much to handle. 

That’s not to say it isn't worth being out and about. I know some people will feel this post is rather heavy. But, it is. And that’s the reality for me and (not all) other disabled people who carry this heaviness. That’s why I’m posting this to give insight into behind the scenes of ableism. It’s something that can be seen in most parts of peoples’ days. It’s not a singular event that we move on from. It’s a domino effect that can sometimes be hard to rebuild back up again. 

Can you relate to this topic - or have you seen first hand someone experience these consequences? Let me know in the comments below! Please do share if you find this helpful and tag me so I can say thank you!