#JustAskDontGrab is a new campaign started by Dr Amy Kavanagh on Twitter to highlight the experiences of disabled people who are grabbed, manhandled, and “helped” by people when they did not ask for or require it, causing more harm than good.
In her blog on the Metro, Amy, who is visually impaired and uses a cane, writes: “I love my cane as it has really helped me regain my independence, but there is one negative that I’ve started to encounter. People keep grabbing me!
“I know that people just want to help. However, being grabbed, pushed, pulled or even touched without warning is disorientating, frightening and sometimes even dangerous.
“People who grab rarely help me and often achieve exactly the opposite. Imagine how it would feel if you were suddenly pushed across a road or pulled into a train carriage?”
In a tweet, she explained why she had started the hashtag: “I’m trying to get the hashtag going because I encounter it every day. I love the independence my cane gives me but my anxiety around the grabbing and unwanted touching has become problematic. I just want people to ask if I need help and respect my bodily autonomy.”
I’m visually impaired I use a white cane. Today a man grabbed me by my left shoulder & pulled me backwards as I tried to go down a set of stairs. I explained how frightening it was & that the tactile paving let me know about the stairs. He apologised & learned. #JustAskDontGrab
— Dr Amy Kavanagh (@BlondeHistorian) August 6, 2018
was in a supermarket and my son had gone round to the next aisle to get something (i'm in a manual wheelchair) – I was looking at some tinned fruit and was suddenly rolled out to the middle of the aisle by another woman. #justaskdontgrab
— ali wilkin (@aliwilkin) July 31, 2018
If i had a quid for every time someone randomly grabbed my chair while I’m just getting through a doorway I’d be able to afford a pwerchair by now #JustAskDontGrab
— joellery🗡 (@pyratetreasure) August 2, 2018
I appreciate people are only trying to help but I had someone “help” me get off the bus once and cause of my anxiety, I find it hard to speak up so I just let him and I got my wheel jammed in between the bus and kerb almost broke my wheel and fell outta my chair. #JustAskDontGrab
— Speedy Wheelz (@Speedy_Wheelz) July 30, 2018
Well meaning folks can injure me if they grab my wheelchair without my consent. Shout out to the girls at the bar who asked first, then RESPECTED my decision when I said no. #JustAskDontGrab
— and fionn the human (@astoldby_yarn) August 3, 2018
Went to town in powerchair. Unwelcome contact from 2 sep strangers. Second shouted at me when I said 'Don't Touch Me'. No wonder I didn't sleep last night #JustAskDontGrab
— Miss Dennis Queen (@missdennisqueen) August 2, 2018
Happens to me EVERY DAMN TIME I have an anxiety attack. I hate being touched, and it only intensifies when I'm in the middle of an episode. And it's always someone I don't know doing it. ASK ME FIRST. (I'll say no, but still. ASK ME.) #JustAskDontGrab
— Aeryn B. (@jiangyin) July 31, 2018
I was once trying to gauge the distance from the train to the platform when a man on the platform grabbed my walker and pulled it toward him – I almost fell flat on my face. I assume he meant to help but was too startled to do anything but focus on getting away. #justaskdontgrab
— -_- (@tavablake) July 31, 2018
Don't just take my case from me when I'm walking down stairs because you think it helps its dangerous and causes me to lose balance also my arms may be slender but they are strong I was given pressups as physio, don't assume I can't carry weight #justaskdontgrab
— sarah (@flyinggirlsarah) July 31, 2018
Amy also uses the hashtag to highlight positive interactions, giving examples of how to help in a positive and respectful way.
The bright sunlight significantly reduces my vision, I was about to cross a road & got spooked by a black hybrid silent car. A lovely man stopped & asked me if I wanted help & let me take his arm. I thanked him for helping me in such a polite & respectful way. #JustAskDontGrab
— Dr Amy Kavanagh (@BlondeHistorian) August 3, 2018
Use the #JustAskDontGrab hashtag to share your stories and read the experiences of others.Get your copy of UNITE Magazine