A 28-year-old swimmer has recalled the horrific moment she was abused by a woman for parking in a disability space, despite having had both her legs amputated.
Jessica Long, who has won 13 gold medals at the Paralympic games, was born with fibular hemimelia – a birth defect where all or part of the fibular bone is missing.
She has had to learn to live her life without legs, having had her limbs amputated when she was just 18-months-old.
“So, it just happened again,” the Paralympian from Baltimore, in the US state of Maryland, said in a TikTok video.
“I was parking my car... this woman just has the nerve to look me up and down disgusted that I parked in a handicap spot.
“I don’t have legs.”
Ms Long said she told the woman she had prosthetic legs, even though a handicapped permit should have been enough evidence she required the parking space.
“But she just kind of rolled down her window and proceeded to be like, ‘You shouldn't park there’,” she said.
“I don't have legs, that's why. That's why I have the handicap. And she kind of just drove off, but I'm just ... this happens a lot.
“I was never bullied as a kid, and I didn't know that I was going to be bullied by adults because I park in handicap.
“And I get it, I'm young, I'm athletic, but I'm also missing legs and I know I make it look easy, but it's still really hard. My legs are heavy, they hurt me, I'm in pain. That's why I park in handicap.
“So to all the handicap police out there, just be kind. You don't need to know why someone's parked in the handicap.”
Thousands support woman after parking ordeal
Ms Long’s video has been viewed about 4.8 million times and tens of thousands of people have jumped to her defence.
Many were shocked by the treatment she received from the woman who questioned Ms Long’s motives for parking in the space, while others shared similar stories of living with a disability.
“You said something particular that hit home. Being an amputee means daily pain that never goes away. Folks don’t know that,” one said.
“I love when that happens to me. I wish I could throw my leg at them,” another commented.
“This is why I’m terrified to use my pass even on horrible pain days because my injuries are ‘invisible’,” a third claimed.
Some said however the woman’s “heart was in the right place” and she wanted to make sure those who needed it could access the parking space.
“She happened to have been wrong, but you do realise she was fighting for you, right? She wanted to make sure people like you who need the spot, have it,” one claimed.
“She was probably thinking she was doing the right thing, but we should all look for the sticker/pass thing first. If there is one there, say nothing,” another responded.
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