Stop Online Abuse.

Being in the public eye for the past two years has subjected me to many forms of online abuse be it indirectly or directly. I have witnessed the “mob mentality” escalate appallingly fast when someone may have a different school of thought, or by simply being different. Take the time for example when I was attacked for choosing to speak instead of sign in my BBC interview. I naturally speak when I am with hearing people as I am more comfortable doing so yet my choice to speak was not respected by those who demanded that I signed just because I come from a deaf family. I was put between a rock and a hard place and I was damned if I did sign and damned if I didn’t. The sheer number of sheep flocking was astonishing – thank God I am not a sheep! These days, too many people take advantage of peer pressure to manipulate and dictate others what to do.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou.

There will always be someone who can put forwards different perspectives on issues and situations due to their experiences in life and knowledge, making the impact for change greater – surely everyone deserves to be respected with kindness just as much as the next person regardless? It is extremely healthy to have variations of viewpoints so one can be educated and decide – especially for themselves.

When having a different opinion one tends to be singled out as a “Troll” yet to single that person out as a troll must be another form of abuse in itself.

The World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web.

However I have recently experienced a new form of online abuse and I have been left saddened by it. This experience has made me want to retreat, have nothing at all to do with the world wide web to distance myself from all the negativity and to restrain myself from reacting. Life is far too short.

To go onto social media and post potentially libellous material which names a person, persons and so on when they cannot defend themselves surely must be another form of online abuse? Especially when there is no evidence that the named party has attacked or done anything wrong yet people feel the urge to personally attack the named party? And what’s worse, people adopting the “mob mentality” by joining in and adding fuel to the fire. No one is born with hatred – it is instilled and mimicked. If only respect worked in the same sense.

Seeing that occur from a distance opened my eyes and I soon realised I had been in the very same position numerous times now. Unfortunately I know I am not alone in this experience for a friend of mine was personally attacked recently by someone posting a video onto social media publically naming him and criticising him. If only he had sorted his dispute out privately with the named person – he would not be now known as a bully within our circle of mutual friends.

I will not tolerate or condone any form of online abuse around me especially bullying. I made it clear that I would not stand for this within the Tree House in the form of personal attacks (or when we are named outside the safety perimeters of the Tree House which subsequently is inviting us to take action) or be associated with those seen to be contributing to the very public online form of abuse. Yet making it clear, I was inevitably set upon. My position as founder in trying to protect the Tree House from any potential damage was questioned, undermined. oppressed and criticised. Being unbiased and diplomatic sets myself apart from others and this helps me to look outside the box – as always I will do as I deem just, adapting to each situation based on my experience. Was my being criticised and slated another form of online abuse? Maybe not in their eyes but it certainly felt like it to me.

To have thick skin is very important and deaf people are extremely vulnerable to the various forms of abuse, be it online, within society, at school, at work and unfortunately at home. In all walks of life, there will always be that someone who will try to drag others down no matter who they may be, for being different. My scars have healed over many times now hence why my skin has grown thicker and if I can refuse to be manipulated, so can you. Positivity rules!

Do not encourage any form of online abuse because these emotions which are associated with being bullied will exhibit themselves within the victim(s).

◾Depression

◾Shame

◾Low self-esteem

◾Sadness

◾Difficulty trusting others

◾Anger

◾Anxiety

◾Frustration

◾Fear

The offenders’ hatred should not dictate your time and you would only be lowering yourself to their level if you join in or encourage it. Rise above it because people who show their true colours in this manner deserve to be reported to the police so keep a record of all the evidence and present it in order to take action. I have done this in the past being a victim and they have listened – they issued warnings to the offending parties. With actions comes consequences – if they can dish it out, they can certainly take it.

Please, don’t have one rule for yourself and another for others – put yourself in the victim’s shoes and walk hundreds of miles in it first, taking a look in the mirror before passing any judgement or criticism.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jnr.

It is about time online abuse in its various forms is stopped. Help by being a part of that change in stopping personal attacks, cyber bullying and all forms of online harassment. Fight back – especially for justice.

Thank you, for your time and patience.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Some useful links for your reference:

Internet Safety

Bully Online

Crown Prosecution Service

Taking action about Harassment.

Harassment Act 1997

and last but not least,

I would like to applaud Dr Taylor.

Update: Defamatory gossip is now being spread about The Tree House and myself which is once again another form of abuse – Please keep evidence of this as we have built up a case which we have taken action on with positive results.

-cracy.

-cracy. Denoting a particular form of government, rule, or influence:

I quite like the logistics behind “Democracy” and tend to do my best to advocate equality and free speech in many senses as possible– regardless of our medical histories, cultures, ethnicity and religion. I would also prefer to see democratically elected leaders to oversee and represent us, retaining the right to choose what we, the people, really want.

John Lennon’s song/phrase “Power to the People” comes to mind, or as ‘Wolfie’ from Citizen Smith would also say.

As a supposedly democratic country, we would naturally assume our neighbours would relate, practice and support this system or it’s principles too. In order to empower one another. Unfortunately leaders may turn unduly oppressive due to power trips and relatively oppress their people via acts of unjust treatment. This can also inevitably lead to dictatorship and then possibly autocracy (God forbid!) If society chooses not to comply in any sense they have been instructed to, they will be punished for it. One has no rights at all because it is one rule for those in charge and another for the rest.

Empowerment

Empowerment

Media seems to be censored and of a propagandist nature. People are therefore not exposed to hard facts occurring on a daily basis here and elsewhere in the world because those facts have been suppressed and deemed politically unacceptable. The West can go on about spreading democracy and human rights around the world but will turn a blind eye to their dictator friends purely for financial gains. This is hypocrisy not democracy. Unfortunately this hypocrisy trickles down to our daily lives be it your right as a minority or a disabled person – in my case as a deaf person. If it is not financially viable then our right is left for debate or simply denied altogether.

As citizens of a democratic country…. a friend of mine recently posted a video out of frustration which started a ripple effect within the deaf community. English is not his first language therefore he naturally feels restricted in terms of written language but he overcomes this by producing videos in BSL (British Sign Language) for us to watch. I really like this particular video because he is practising his right to freedom of speech. Please note, these are his views and his words which I have transcribed for you in order to include you. I have tried my very best to keep the transcription tone and language as him, out of respect to him and his rights.

Transcription:

Hello,

Why am I here? I want to talk about BDA. B for Britsh, D – Deaf, A – Association.  

Remember my last video thanking BSL Act (over see hear etc). Some people made comments on the video regarding BDA. Some said BDA campaigned MP’s and some disagreed. Everyone has their own different views and experiences.

My experience so far is like this. BDA themselves have been organizing for the past 10 years but nothing has happened. It’s the same story – same, same, same.

Where is our access, to improve our skills? There is nothing since 122 years ago to now. Some deaf people have terrible access, experiences of facing barriers and brick walls. How can we overcome this? We have to contact BDA for advice but they say they cannot help and back off. This makes the deaf people feel small and lose confidence.

It is interesting, why? Let’s compare the differences. BDA themselves campaign MP’s. If there was a problem and we asked for help from fellow deaf community, they show respect and help each other out. Giving information, details of names and addresses to contact quite quickly. I applaud them.

Yet it is the opposite situation for the BDA. They cannot help. Why? There is plenty of BDA offices in Scotland, Glasgow, Manchester etc around the UK.

 I would like to tell you something that happened. My wife was pregnant and due to give birth last December. I was angry with the hospital due to poor service and difficult problems. I searched on the internet and found the BDA website, they could help. So I made contact with them via SMS and it was perfect. Where? In Holloway, London.

When we met face to face, I explained my reasons why I was there and shared my experiences. The BDA told me that they can’t help. I asked. “what do you mean? Cant help?!” I needed to know legal information, how to go about things. I don’t know what it is like or anything about the equality act. I don’t know and wanted this information. BDA “Can’t help!” They only wanted to have a face to face brief meeting. That’s all.

This made me feel small and lose confidence. Hmmmm.

“Okay” I said… I tried to sort it out myself. Was in the newspapers etc with positive results. I realised and understood how other deaf people felt about the BDA.

Recently I went to, on 18th or 19th March, Russell Square a hotel called Inn Hotel. I paid £70 for a ticket and lots of other deaf people turned up. (He’s referring to the BDA Symposium)

Honestly, I was feeling frustrated and wanted to ask the BDA about their poor service.

We have a right, we are in the UK – a right to be ourselves and to speak. It’s allowed?! I wanted to ask a question but someone told me I could not stand and speak but had to write a letter and post it into the comments box. “What?!” I asked… “Yes, box is for BDA panel to read out the comments or questions such as “How can we improve the BDA etc” then discuss.”

That’s all! This left me feeling perplexed and wondered if that was ok as I felt it was not right.

Really, lots of deaf people sent me messages to my inbox about the BDA and that it was true the access etc is crap. In Glasgow, Manchester too. I could now really understand and empathise with them. I asked them if they were willing to make a BSL video but they felt not confident enough to sign in a video.

I understand how it feels. Did the BDA help when my baby was being born at that time? No! Who helped me to sort it out? I did it myself. With the help of BSL Act  when I asked for more information. Sylvia helped me a lot via facetime.

Please remember, I am not criticising BDA or its name which is beautiful. It is the access, service and people which is spoiling it. I have to be straight to the point – it’s poor.

Where are the improvements for deaf people? Nothing. Benefits cut, lots of things being cut, campaigning is down. BDA being put on the spot and sending out letters (not clear)

Legal have power and this can be done via BDA. The British have power so you can do this yourself.

I feel if I was in their position, I could do this myself. But the BDA say no, have to follow procedure ie write a formal letter and post it. What next? After that, what? If successful, then what? It is very important for deaf people to be heard, to ask questions and speak. For the BDA to listen to the deaf people, hold discussions with them and if there is any problems, to give advice. For example, children – family protection, social workers, facing barriers etc. For the BDA to have consultations which the deaf people would be very grateful for and feel confident to sort out themselves.

If no advice, no consultations, how will deaf people manage? Will they be successful? Deaf people need to know this information and it is important for BDA staff/service to show respect for us all.

If it was the other way around and they asked for our support, from the deaf community with their campaigns ie MP’s but deaf people chose not to give their support. BDA would be really disappointed.

Honestly, I am angry.

Because BDA have a good name but they are hiding a lot of things behind scenes.

Hope all enjoy weekend with family and Half term.

Be happy.

Bye.”

A response to David’s video was provided by the CEO of BDA that anyone with concerns could email him on ceo@bda.org.uk. As he is inviting you to email him, please do so because you have an ample opportunity to be “heard”.

Having said that we still suffer from the hypocrisy of certain people in charge, this does not mean we do not appreciate what is good about this country. We need to appreciate and remember those in developing countries especially where there is evidence of corruption, bribery and lack of rights for the residents there. Those who face difficulties and challenges a hundred fold due to their disabilities. I have seen with my own eyes how their governments have neglected them and believe me, some people in this country take for granted just how lucky they are. To have roofs over their heads, warmth, comforts and food. Free NHS and plentiful medicine. I have no issues with those who want to strive and improve on what we already have in a positive sense. Yet we should not rest on our laurels. It is important to keep the people in charge in check otherwise the standards will inevitably drop. As a consequence, I have taken a dislike to people who are negative about anything and everything and argue for the sake of arguing without any constructive input. We should appreciate the fact that we can speak, without any fear.

Imagine what it would be like, if you could not express yourselves via spoken/written word or sign language?

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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