It’s National Hate Crime Week this week so I’ve been to an event run by the Met Police Road and Safer Transport Team at Redbridge College. What was great was that 40 people who attended filled out the hate crime survey and we all felt empowered to not tolerate hate crime if it is directed at us.
And sadly, very recently, it was directed at me.
Because I had tweeted and put things on my facebook page from a Positively UK conference I went to last month, an acquaintance had seen it and thought it then acceptable to hurl a load of abuse at me. The person used 3 different facebook accounts which were anonymous and was often posting comments at night.
The comments they wrote were horrible. I am not going to repeat them here as that would only in some legitimise them I think. But they were homophobic, dripping with HIV related stigma and suggested that I deserved some of the awful things that happened in the Second World War.
They really unnerved me. Especially posting them at night as it meant I didn’t get to see them until many hours afterwards. Reading how someone said that NHS money was or wasn’t being well spent for example was shocking. Horrific to be honest. I got really quite concerned about my own safety so took a deep breath and reported it all to the Neighbourhood Police Team.
You know we put our faith in the authorities and in this case I really cant thank them enough. I only got complete support and understanding from every single officer concerned. I was interviewed by the CID who looked through my social media and discovered a stroke of luck. The person directing their hate at me made a mistake and sent a message from a 4th FB account, but this time it was identifiable. They were arrested and soon admitted they had sent all the messages, from all 4 accounts. The person was immediately regretful, blamed the influence of alcohol and cannabis and were terrified their family would find out. The person is from a certain ethnic background where shame on a family is a big deal and a court case could be devastating.
Good I thought. You deserve to be kakking yourself. I have had sleepness nights and been made to feel frightened in my own house. It’s completely unacceptable. I am not a vindictive person but was pleased the person was very apologetic. The police asked me, did I want to press charges and go to court or would I feel justice had been done if the person got a caution. I chose the later. The person feels deeply ashamed and that is good enough for me.
So my message to anyone who has experienced hate crime – because of their race, religion, sexuality or disability for example. Report it. Get advice from specialist hate crime groups if you like. Just googling them will find what you need. Direct message me if you like and I am happy to help. But don’t let the crime go unpunished. Don’t let people think they can bully you. Together we can beat HIV-related stigma I am sure. And I did my bit by responding to cowardly behaviour from someone that was totally unwelcomed and unnecessary. They now have a criminal record. Good!
I have also been busy meeting and greeting new clients at Positive East including a person who was diagnosed with HIV some time ago and had been feeling really unsupported. I was glad they came in and I was happy to explain all the ways Positive East can help them. But more of that, and them, next week.
Thanks for reading.