A young Sydney woman who suffers from a severe gastro disorder has shared the torment she endures when others judge her for parking in a disabled spot.
Steph Kelly, 27, can only eat via a formula passing through a central line directly into her bloodstream. Needing to go to the pharmacy for medication she has described how her and her partner's car was attacked with ice cream by teenage girls giving her scornful looks for where she had parked.
"They had their P-plates, they were probably 18, 19 maybe 20," Ms Kelly said on TikTok. "At this point, my disabled permit is on the dash — you can see it, it’s very hard to miss."
"They looked at us with frowns, they were like ‘ugh that’s a disabled spot’ and then went into the McDonald’s drive-thru which was right next to where we were parking."
Thinking that was the end of it, the couple entered the pharmacy, only to come out 15 minutes later to be shocked by what they saw on the car.
"First thing Adam notices is ice cream all over the front bonnet and front guard... they went through the McDonald's drive-thru, came back out and threw an entire soft serve cone onto our car," she claimed.
Ms Kelly's two serious conditions — gastroparesis and intestinal failure — require the central line tube inserted underneath her skin for 16 hours a day, which she carries around in her backpack in public. It's something that people can't see as it's "under her clothes".
Common treatment for those with an 'invisible disability'
She criticised the girls' response to her 'invisible illness", something that's been done to her car twice now for parking in a disabled spot.
Ms Kelly revealed that she has also been "verbally attacked, abused" and had other damage made to her car for the same reason, as well as for going to a disabled toilet.
"Just because I'm not in a wheelchair or I don’t have that mainstream look everyone puts on disabled people," she told Yahoo News Australia.
According to the Australian Network of Disability, 4.4 million people live with a disability in the country, both visible and invisible. Out of those, only 4.4 per cent use a wheelchair.
Unfortunately statistics show many people with invisible disabilities have had similar experiences to Ms Kelly — sentiments that were echoed in the comments section of her video.
She hopes to raise awareness about living with an invisible illness online because most of the time, "people have no idea."
"If I explain online, maybe the next person who goes to judge someone at the shops might remember they watched my video and give that person a break," she said.
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