April 2, 2007

Who are the real “victims” who “suffer” here?

Filed under: Disability, Health, Life, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 7:52 am


I was reading a newspaper article a few minutes ago that talked about a guy who has spina bifida.  He was described as “a victim of spina bifida”.

I looked up the defination of “victim” on  This is what it said:



  1. One who is harmed or killed by another: a victim of a mugging.
  2. A living creature slain and offered as a sacrifice during a religious rite.
  3. One who is harmed by or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition: victims of war.
  4. A person who suffers injury, loss, or death as a result of a voluntary undertaking: You are a victim of your own scheming.
  5. A person who is tricked, swindled, or taken advantage of: the victim of a cruel hoax.

How exactly was he a “victim” here?  He wasn’t harmed by another person (it ws a birth defect).  He clearly wasn’t sacrificed as he is still alive.  It wasn’t an injury he suffered as a result of a voluntary undertaking.  I guess they were talking about being harmed or made to suffer from a circumstance or condition. 

Is he really a “victim” because he was born the way he was?  Because he uses a wheelchair to get around?  Will he automatically be a “victim” his whole life?  If you asked him to describe himself would he describe himself as a victim?  I highly doubt it!  Then why is the press labeling him that way?  Do they think because he uses a wheelchair he can’t possibly lead a happy and realitivly “normal” life?

I personally can’t stand being labeled in negative ways such as this!  I hear it all the time.  He was a “victim” of [insert disease/condition here].  She “suffers” from [insert condition here].  In fact the term “suffers from” was also used in the same newspaper article to describe this poor unfortunate guy who is unable to walk and therefore can’t possible lead a happy life.  How could he in his “condition”?

People with disabilities can and do lead “normal” and happy lives.  We have jobs, go shopping, raise families, and do everything able bodied people do.  We might do it a little differently, but we get the job done!  The people who really are the “victims” who “suffer” here are the extremely close minded individuals who label people who are disabled with these terms!



  1. Hi,

    I read this and had to laugh. I work for a disease foundation and have to write profiles of
    people all the time. Please understand it is a “ratings game.” I need to portray people as “suffering from” or “victims of” diseases and related conditions because I have to kick readers in the gut. There’s nothing close-minded about it — it is a calculated use of language designed to pull at the heart strings. The goal of any story like that is to get the reader to pick up the phone and make a donation to an organization that does research or provides support. That in itself is kind of slimy, but you do what you have to do to make it sell. Normal, happy lives don’t sell newspapers, unfortunately.

    Comment by Laura — April 23, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

  2. What really annoys me about people who write like this is the fact that the people reading what is written treat me like a total basketcase who can’t do anything for myself and pity me because of what they have read! There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have someone say how “brave” I am to go outside, even if it’s just taking my guide dog outside to pee. I get petted on the head, and hear comments like “that poor girl” all the time because people believe what they read. They believe that I am a “victim” and I do “suffer” because of what they read. They just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that I live a perfectly “normal” and happy life.

    Is selling a few extra newspapers to a handful of people who want to read the “heartwarming”, sappy story about some “poor unfortunate” person really worth forcing people with disabilities who have perfectly “normal” lives to listen to the constant comments and being treated like they can’t do anything. We have to constantly try to “fight” against what is written by people to “correct” people’s perspectives. We shouldn’t have to do this at all, especially when the articles are written by someone who is twisting things around to make it more “heartwarming” and really don’t have the slightest clue as to what our lives are “really” like?

    Comment by Kim & Sophie — April 23, 2007 @ 6:00 pm

  3. I notice that Laura has not had the guts to respond…

    What really annoys me is that people without a clue make assumptions. Like the assumption that I have chosen to be in a relationship with you because I “pity” you. The whole of society makes the assumption that so called “able bodied” people would not want to be be with someone with a disability out of love… thats not only annoying but shameful.

    People who victimise others for their own gain (or even for so called charities), are beyond contempt IMHO. Why not clebrate achievement? Whats so wrong about that?

    Comment by Julian — April 24, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

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