Woman with chronic illness told she should be ‘ashamed’ for using disabled parking

An Australian woman with a disabled parking permit has shared a nasty note left on her car by a stranger who said she “should be ashamed” for using the spot because she could walk.

Katie Brebner Griffin, 29, suffers from multiple health conditions – severe endometriosis, a nervous system disorder and complex, chronic pain – which she says impacts every aspect of her life.

The Melbourne woman was given a disabled parking permit earlier this year due to her conditions, which she said has been an ‘absolute game-changer’.

But as she does not need to use a mobility aid, Katie said people often stare and ask where her wheelchair is when she parks in a disabled spot.

Katie Brebner Griffin
Katie Brebner Griffin suffers from multiple health conditions including a nervous system disorder.

However, this reached a new level when she recently went shopping and found a nasty note left on her car.

“The parking permit has changed my life” she said.

“I’m able to get into the outside world a bit more as I don’t have to use up as much energy getting to and from places.

Katie Brebner Griffin
Katie Brebner Griffin has a disabled parking permit.

“It’s also really helpful for the times when my symptoms suddenly flare up and I need to lie down – there’s less distance to cover to get home.

“But recently, I was at the shops with my partner before heading to a birthday.

“We’d been there for 20 minutes, and when we came back to our car there was an anonymous note on the dashboard.

“I felt anxious and ashamed at first, even though I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.

“I’m angry about it now, as I’ve had three notes in about four months of having the permit.

The note said that a screenshot of Katie Brebner Griffin walking out of her car was reported to authorities.

“I don’t like feeling watched while I go about my life.”

The note even said the stranger had taken photos.

“Disability parking. A screenshot of you walking out of your car has been sent to council,” the note read.

“This is an abuse of parking, I’m in a wheelchair and can’t park.

“You should be ashamed. A photo and rego has been taken.”

Katie said this wasn’t the first time such an incident had occurred, and she often feels judged when she uses a disabled parking spot.

Katie Brebner Griffin
Katie Brebner Griffin said that the disabled parking permit was a “game-changer” for her.

“It’s difficult being chronically ill and having a dynamic disability as a result.

“The idea of a dynamic disability isn’t that widely known outside the disabled community.

“People don’t understand that because I can look ‘fine’ or ‘normal’ to them, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I’m able-bodied or healthy.

“The looks that people give you for using something that makes being out in the world accessible are a layer of invisible politics that’s tiring to deal with.”

Katie is now sharing her journey with the world via Instagram to help educate about different disabilities.

“My endometriosis pain is so severe that I have a permanent spinal cord implant to help deal with it,” she said.
“I’m in constant pain, and have limited energy and concentration. I can be in bed for days.

“I’d like people to remember that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

“Even though someone might think they’re keeping an eye out for disabled people by writing these kinds of notes, I wish they’d stop as they could actually be making a disabled person’s day a whole lot worse.”

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