Some examples of social violence against disabled folks

I wrote a post a while back about writing characters with disabilities. I said that in real life, disabled folks experience social violence regularly. In order to write realistic disabled characters, it’s important to write in social violence (and not blame it on the disability).

I didn’t include many examples though, which probably made the post more or less useless for people who don’t already know about such things

So here’s some kinds of social violence that are common for people with various disabilities:

Being asked invasive personal questions:

  • Detailed questions about their medical history
  • Questions like “What happened?” or “Why are you like that?”
  • Questions about how they have sex
  • Questions about how they use the bathroom
  • Unsolicited medical advice, often ridiculous (eg: “Have you tried veganism?”
  • Unsolicited and invasive prayers. Insinuating that they’d be cured if they had more faith

Not being believed:

  • Many wheelchair users can stand or walk a few steps. They’re often seen as faking their need for a wheelchair when they do
  • Some people like to test to see if people are blind by getting in their faces or doing inappropriate things in front of them
  • People try to trick AAC users by asking complicated questions in hope of tripping them up and proving that they’re not really communicating
  • Being told they’re just fat and if they’d lose weight they wouldn’t be disabled anymore
  • “You’re too young to need a cane”
  • Being told that something can’t really be a seizure trigger because it’s not flashing lights


  • Being called the r-word implicitly or explicitly (happens to most people who are perceived as disabled, not just people with downs syndrome or other conditions that tend to cause intellectual disability)
  • Being told they’re a burden on society

Folks with service dogs:

  • People try to pet the dog
  • People ask invasive questions about the dog

Being treated like a young child:

  • “Where are your parents?”
  • “Should you be eating that?”
  • “You’re not flying alone, are you?”

There are a lot of other examples. This is not an exhaustive list.