Today’s installment of Around the Grove features heavy subject matter. If you could be triggered by discussions of filicide, murder, abuse, neglect, or ableism, you might want to skip this one. However, if these topics are not traumatic triggers for you, please keep reading. This is important. Thank you.
For those of you who don’t know, I am the Vice President of Zeta Sigma. Zeta Sigma is the USG chapter of Delta Alpha Pi, which is an international honor society for students with various disabilities. Our mission at Zeta Sigma is to promote understanding, tolerance, and inclusion for disabled people. We aim to open conversations with our nondisabled peers about disability issues because we believe that disability does not make someone “damaged” or “less-than.”
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with that sentiment.
Nobody is denying that the world is very hostile toward disability, whether that means inaccessible infrastructure, or difficulty finding a job, or a number of other things. But it is entirely another thing when that hostility comes from the person who was supposed to be your safety net. And when that hostility costs you your life.
Every year, dozens of people of all ages (yes, even babies) with dozens of disabilities are victims of filicide: murder by the victim’s parent or caregiver. If the murderer is caught, they spin a tale of how their victim was better off dead, because how could anyone who was so “broken” be anything but a “burden” to others?
DisabilityMemorial.org has documented cases like this going back to 1980, but the cycle is almost always the same. The worst part is that the “burden” defense almost always works. The “better off dead” narrative gets picked up by the media, and the killer gets a comparatively lighter sentence, if any sentence at all.
And the victim? The innocent whose life was terminated against their will? The one who had to die knowing that the person they most trusted didn’t love them at all?
But not to us.
Every year, on March 1st, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network hosts the Disability Day of Mourning, when self-advocates and allies come together to mourn the people who deserve to be remembered.
This year, Zeta Sigma will conduct one of the vigils, and we invite you all to join us. We will have introductions from Kaitlin Mills (our advisor) and Dr. Jonathan Kandell of the USG Center for Counseling and Consultation. Then, members will read the names of the 2020-2021 victims, and our president, Emma Earnest, will share her personal experiences with related trauma.
You can watch the recorded vigil on Facebook through this link. And don’t worry, you don’t need a Facebook account to join. For more information, read the ASAN Anti-Filicide toolkit, and check out the full list of names on DisabilityMemorial.org.
I hope to see you there.