Trigger warnings for murder, child abuse, violence, hate crime and suicide. None described graphically but all mentioned repeatedly.
***IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER CALL 999 FOR THE POLICE AND/OR AMBULANCE. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE A DANGER TO ANOTHER PERSON, CALL 999 OR GO TO A POLICE STATION OR ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY***
This blog post will be pretty different from my usual posts. This one is born out of a need to do something constructive in the wake of yet another terrible tragedy befalling my community. Issy Stapleton’s mother tried to kill her.
And even though I’ve never met Issy or talked to her online, that tragedy affects me because I, like Issy, am autistic. Us autistics look out for our own and when one of us suffers violence, the rest of us want to help. We are here for you, Issy. What happened to you was monstrous and abusive and wrong and I am praying that you survive it and come to learn that even if your mother could not be trusted to love you and protect you, you still have a family in us. We love you and we will try our best to keep you safe. My friend Bridget wrote this for you and here is a whole blog dedicated to telling you how precious and loved you are. How much we want you to live, how great a loss it would be to our community and to the world if you died. We are here for you Issy, and we always will be. That’s a promise.
One way to help though is to try to stop this ever happening again. Parents and carers killing or trying to kill their autistic or disabled family members happens so frequently that we have Vigils and days of mourning planned throughout the year, we know the names on the growing list of those murdered. We pledge, again and again, to “Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living“. This what I’m going to try to do here.
Paula C. Durbin Westby compiled this list of resources for US-based autism families where either an autistic person felt unsafe or a parent/carer felt they were likely to harm their child. I am going to try to compile a similar resource for autistics and families in the UK.
FOR AUTISTIC / DISABLED / ANY CHILDREN AND AUTISTIC / DISABLED ADULTS
If you are in danger, for example if someone is hurting you or talking about hurting you and you can get to a phone call 999. Even if you can’t talk, yelling or screaming into the phone may still cause help to arrive. If you have a mobile phone, register it with the 999 text service by following these instructions NOW in case you ever need to call for the police or ambulance when you cannot talk or need to call for help without your parent / carer knowing what you’re doing.
If you are a child (under 18) in the UK and you are unhappy or scared because of ANYTHING that is going on in your life, contact Childline by phoning 0800 1111 or chatting online with a counsellor through the childline website (good if you’re nonverbal). If you’ve no access to the internet at home, see if you can go online at a friend’s house, at school or at your local library or youth centre.
If you are over 18 and you are scared or unhappy but not currently in danger, you can call The Samaritans on 08475 909090 or email email@example.com. They will listen to you and talk through whatever is upsetting you. They won’t tell you what to do and may be able to give you details of other organisations who can help you.
Learning disabled people who are scared of someone at home hurting them or who are scared that they might hurt someone can get in touch with RESPOND. At the time of writing, RESPOND’s helpline is down and they suggest calling Mencap on 0808 808 1111 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
If you are a girl or woman and you are being hurt, threatened or are scared of someone you live with, call Womens Aid on 0808 2000 247 (24 hours a day, every day).
If you are a boy or man and you are being hurt, threatened or are scared of someone you live with, call the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are thinking of running away or have run away from the place where you usually live, call or text Missing People at 116 000 (24 hours a day, every day) or email email@example.com . If you’re an adult, they can’t make you go back and will talk you through your options which may include sending a message home that you are safe. They will not tell anyone where you are unless you want them to. If you are under 18, the law means your parents / guardians may be told where you are but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go back to them if you don’t want to, the number to call is the same as for adults and text messages can still be sent to this number even if you’ve no credit on your phone.
If you are not sure whether or not you are being abused, read this information. If you’re still not sure, get in touch with one of the helplines or websites above anyway. They won’t tell you your problem is too small or not important, they’re there to help. You can even call a helpline just to practice how to do it and say “Hello, everything is okay right now but I wanted to know what it’s like to call a helpline so I won’t panic about it if I ever need to”. They’ll understand.
If you’re an adult now but when you were a child someone did bad things to you and you’re still hurting, call NAPAC on 0800 085 3330 or 0808 801 0331 between 10am and 9pm Monday to Thursday or between 10am and 4pm on Friday or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are worried about someone else, call a helpline. If they are a child and you are an adult call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or text them on 88858 or email them at email@example.com. They answer calls 24 hours a day, every day. If you are both under 18, call Childline. If you are both adults, call Women’s Aid or the Men’s Advice Line or their local social services.
REMEMBER IF YOU FEEL YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE IS IN DANGER, CALL 999 AND ASK FOR THE POLICE.
INFORMATION FOR ADULT PARENTS / CARERS WHO ARE WORRIED THAT THEY MAY HURT, ABUSE OR KILL A DISABLED PERSON IN THEIR CARE
***If you feel that the person in your care is in danger of death or injury at your hand, go to a separate room and call 999 and ask for the police. Tell them exactly what it is that you’re afraid you are going to do and ask them to make sure you don’t.***
If you have a more general concern that you may be harming or at risk of harming a child in your care, call the NSPCC on 0808 0800 5000, text them on 88858 or type the name of your town and “child services” into google to find the details to contact your local children’s services directly. Do NOT wait until the worst has already happened, if you feel likely to harm your child, you NEED help and support. Yes, maybe your child will be taken into care, probably temporarily. THIS IS A MUCH BETTER OUTCOME THAN BEING KILLED OR HARMED BY YOU.
If you are thinking of killing yourself, call the Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 or make an appointment to see your GP. If you are worried you might kill yourself in the immediate future, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or take yourself to A&E and tell them you are worried that you might kill yourself. They will get you a psychological assessment and further help.
If you are struggling to cope with caring for a disabled adult family member but no one is in immediate danger, contact Carer’s Direct to find out if more support is available to you and the person you care for – you may be eligible for extra money, support services, discounts and respite care. Their number is 0808 802 0202 and lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and from 11am to 4pm, at weekends, except bank holidays. Calls are free.
The National Autistic Society also has a helpline which may help you to find support and services locally for both yourself and the person you care for, whether they are a child or an adult. Their number is 0808 0800 4104, lines are open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday except Bank Holidays. This is NOT an emergency number, in an emergency, call 999.
If you think you may be abusing someone in your care and want to stop, call RESPECT on 0808 802 40 40 to get help. Remember, if someone you care for is in danger from you, call 999. If abuse has occurred or is likely to occur, contact your local social services and ask to speak to someone about safe-guarding vulnerable adults. Don’t wait for your situation to get worse, get help as soon as you think you might be a danger to the person in your care.
FOR FRIENDS OF AUTISTIC / DISABLED ADULTS, CHILDREN AND THOSE LOOKING AFTER THEM
Friends don’t let friends get murdered or abused and friends don’t let friends become murderers or abusers. If you see something, say something. If you think someone is in immediate danger, call 999. If a disabled/autistic person tells you they are being hurt by a carer or are afraid of a carer, help them get help by calling a helpline or child or adult services. If you are even a little bit worried that someone you know may hurt their child, call the NSPCC or Child Services. Don’t wait for confirmation that harm has occurred, it’s much, much better to be safe than sorry. Look at the various websites I’ve linked so you know what signs to watch out for and GET HELP if anyone seems like they may be being abused or abusing.
IN AN EMERGENCY, CALL 999.
Whatever you do, whether you’re scared someone might hurt you, scared you’re going to hurt someone or scared for someone you know, please don’t do nothing. Okay? Get help.
We don’t want any more Issy Stapletons. And we don’t want any more Kelli Stapletons either.
This has taken a lot out of me and several days to write but if it helps just one person, it will be worth every ounce of energy I put into it.
If you’ve read this far and you needed any of this info, I just want to say that I love you and I hope you get the help you need.