[Disability advocacy is a long and uphill road, but this is why it is important to have laws in place to protect the rights of people with disabilities and differences against discrimination, because it cannot be left to the sole discretion of individuals in society to treat differently abled and diverse members with respect, kindness and dignity. Imagine the same scenario where there is no avenue for complaint and no laws to make sure that such attitudes and actions are strictly discouraged? After this experience, I am even more filled with admiration for disability advocates in my home country, where there is no enforcement against this kind of bigotry and discrimination, and I applaud their tireless efforts to educate and champion the cause of inclusivity. I also thank Cath Phillips and Gayl O’Grady from mindDog Australia, who have been supporting Lucy and me in wonderful ways. MindDog is not merely a service dog organisation, we are a family!]
I was assaulted last night. No, thankfully not physically, but it was a shocking and humiliating verbal attack, and from someone whose duty is to protect and keep me safe. A senior security officer on duty. (In case anyone might jump into the wrong conclusions that this was a racist attack by a bigoted Australian, I’d like to state that this man is Asian, and spoke with an accent that sounded like he is from the Philippines. I have heard so much negative criticism against Australians that are absolutely contrary to my own positive personal experiences, and I feel I needed to clarify this detail here, so as to prevent misinterpretation.)
Although dizzy and exhausted from the experience, I was unable to sleep till 3am, and even then, it was distraught and fitful. Lucy was very brave. She remained calm throughout, though I knew she was affected by the shouting and vitriolic drama. I was aware from her body language and expression that she sensed my fear, and I am grateful that she stayed close by me throughout, quietly but intensely observing me and behaving with utmost decorum. Lucy had nightmares too. Usually, when she has nightmares, she would whimper, but last night, she was growling in a menacing tone that I had never heard before. I am still suffering from the after effects. I could not get out of bed, I was literally frozen in that one foetal position. I could sense Lucy cuddling up to me and she remained in physical contact throughout. This is again a departure from the norm. We both do not like being touched when we are sleeping, and after our goodnight cuddles, we like sleeping separated by some physical space, though we sometimes reach out for brief cuddles now and then. This time, Lucy stayed in the same position, leaning on me throughout, and she did not make a sound or move, even when I knew she had woken up and was watching me intently, waiting for me to wake.
I was happy yesterday that the autoimmune pain levels were subsiding. After this experience, however, my body plunged back into the abyss of physical torment. It was an excruciating struggle to move my limbs and get out of bed. I had to place a hand on Lucy for balance, but we made it outside at last, an hour and half later than usual, for our early morning walk. My girl is such an angel.
My mind is still in foggy disarray, so I shall quote from my email report to the relevant authorities about the incident. No, I will not allow this to go away quietly without protest. This matter has important repercussions on several levels, and as an advocate for inclusivity, it is incumbent on me to highlight this travesty and seek address and redress.
A few key points have solidified in my mind:
Why did this security officer raise his voice at me from the very start, even before I was able to utter a single word?
Why did this security officer refuse to hear my explanation?
Why did this security officer refuse to look at my documentary proof of Lucy as my service dog?
Why did this security officer walk away from me, while continuing to shout at me and accuse me of being in infringement of regulations?
If I was indeed considered a valid threat to security, why did he not conduct a proper investigation to ascertain the truth?
Why did this security officer deliberately humiliate me in front of fellow tenants?
One of his many illogical claims later on (when I confronted him at the Security Office, in the presence of the other security officer) was that he thought I was a visitor who had brought my dog into the building. If this is so, why did he not take the time and effort to properly question me and check for proof of identity etc?
This man is a menace and threat to the very security that he is charged to maintain. He does not have a suitable mindset for such a position of serious responsibility, especially not in a university environment, where, together with safety and wellbeing, a strong sense of acceptance for diversity and inclusivity ought to be vigorously upheld. I hope that he is removed from this post and I need never encounter him or those of his ilk on campus again. Here is the report I sent to the Manager of my building, the Student Equity and Disabilities Unit, and the central Security Office.