In a previous blog post I alluded to the dangers of Twitter, particularly, the ‘Twitter Trolls’ and their propensity to fire sustained, targeted abuse at their victims. Now, I’ve always considered myself a fairly thick-skinned person, and usually I’m able to laugh off most things the trolls throw at me, but for the past 6 weeks or so I’ve been on the receiving end of a sustained, relentless tirade of abuse from a large group of “Anti-Vaccine” activists.
I’ve talked previously about my issues with this group of people and their tendency to resort to abusive tactics in order to try and silence Autistic Advocates such as myself, so I’ll not go too much into that in this post ( I’ve talked about it previously here ).
However, in the past 24 hours or so I’ve hit breaking point. For the past few weeks, I have been receiving upwards of 100 tweets a day from a large group of people giving me pretty much non-stop abuse. Some of the various insults and negative remarks to me include;
Calling me brain damaged, calling me a “sick person”, saying that I am trying to hurt Autistic individuals, a “scumbag”, that I am pretending to be Autistic, that I am a liar, that I am “fake news” (This one amused me actually)
not to mention various other insults, insinuations and vitriol aimed at me over the past 6 weeks.
Today I reached the end of my tether when some individuals started saying to me that it is justified, in certain circumstances, for a mother to murder her Autistic son, and that it is an “act of love” and that I’m a scumbag for not supporting the mother because she acted “out of love” for her son. The case in question involved a woman stabbing her Autistic son in the chest with a kitchen knife over and over again, before slashing his wrists.
The idea of it being “okay” in some circumstances for an Autistic individual to be killed for no reason other than their behaviour is becoming “too difficult” is a traumatising idea for me to read about. Now, I’ve always considered myself a fairly open-minded person, and in the past I was happy to engage with the Anti-vaxxers on social media, in the, perhaps misguided, notion that by engaging with them I could help show them the damage their campaigns do to Autistic people. But the 6 weeks of relentless abuse I’ve received for my attempts to engage have made me rethink entirely.
The events of today especially, have made me decide that Twitter is not worth the hassle. Anyone who knows me will know how passionate and how proud I am of the advocacy work I do, and to be told constantly that I’m a terrible advocate, that I am responsible for ruining people’s lives, that I am evil, a scumbag and whatever else they’ve called me, genuinely hurts and upsets me.
So from now on, I’ve decided to be much more guarded with my advocacy work. If anyone wants to contact me about the anti-vaccine movement or tell me how “I’m not what Autism really is”, they can forget about getting a reply, or indeed anything. I’ve had enough of being absolutely barracked because I don’t fit the stereotypical image of an Autistic Person, (a stereotype that is massively out of date may I add) and the absolute shit I get because they think my life is “easy” or I “haven’t had to suffer”. This is most definitely not the case on either accounts, and I really don’t feel like having to constantly justify my position to a bunch of internet conspiracy theorists who have demonstrated all they are interested in is handing out abuse and venom to anyone who comes into their cross-hairs. I don’t see why I should be treated like this simply because I choose to represent the views and feelings of those who cannot stand up for themselves the way I can.
If anyone needs to get in touch with me, please do so through this blog, or my Facebook page, as I’m going to try and restrict my use of Twitter, until the abuse stops.