(Because I am having trouble with words at the moment, this post may not flow properly. Please be patient as I do have a point to make)
It’s happened again. A young woman is dead. Her mother is her murderer. Instead of widespread condemnation, media reports have focused on how the victim was a burden and the murderer was a “model mother”.
Predictably, comments about this have included the usual rhetoric about shoes, services, and every other excuse available.
If we could only walk in the parent’s shoes, then we would understand why she murdered her child. This has been addressed countless times. Neurodivergent K has addressed it, and flash blogs have been created to address it. Because every time a murderer’s shoes are mentioned, people forget that the victim had shoes too.
This young woman was not autistic, but she was disabled, and once again, the same pattern plays out.
Shoes and services always go together. These comments may as well be combined and called the shervices argument. A disabled person is murdered, and the shervices argument is launched because people want to excuse the actions of the murderer.
They claim that they’re trying to understand why the person reached the point of murdering their child, while simultaneously providing excuses to avoid condemning the murderer.
I’ve written about the shoes excuse before. I’ve linked to enough resources about shoes above, so I don’t think I need to write any more words about shoes.
I want to address the services excuse even though this is not the right time to do that. A young woman is dead and her murderer’s actions should be condemned. This is not the right time to be talking about services, but we are forced to do that because everyone leaps at the chance to talk about it every time one of us is murdered.
Before anyone claims that I’m being hyperbolic in saying that every time one of us is murdered, please go look at the disability day of mourning. We are being murdered in alarmingly high numbers.
Before I address services, I encourage you to read what Paula C. Durbin-Westby has written about all the excuses that people give when a parent murders their disabled child. I’m intentionally linking to a lot of different places in this post to show people that we have heard these excuses before. We have heard them all before.
Every time one of us is murdered, we hear these excuses.
We are being murdered but that isn’t because of shoes, services or any of the other commonly offered excuses. It’s because our lives are seen as less valuable than abled people’s lives. We’re seen as burdens on our parents. We’re seen as burdens on the system.
Well, I purposefully live in the cracks of that system. I am a disabled sole parent of a disabled child. I actively avoid the system. I shy away from the majority of services offered.
The system is not the right place for me or my son to be. The system sees us as broken. The system sees us as people who need help, but the system will determine the type of help provided regardless of whether that help would be helpful.
So I live between the cracks and I have not murdered my child. I don’t state that to get hero worship because not murdering my child is a basic standard of human decency. I don’t deserve recognition for meeting that standard. I state that to show that it is completely possible to have limited access to services and avoid committing murder.
We live in a society where the system and the services it offers are part of the problem. The system and its services highlight how much of a burden we are in both subtle and obvious ways, and the system provides murderers with an excuse to kill their children when they don’t get the services they want.
I’m not suggesting that we don’t need services or support, but I am suggesting that the services and support excuse is not appropriate when disabled people are murdered because you can always point to an inadequate system.
The system will never be perfect and the services will never be sufficient when people have already decided that our lives are less valuable, and that we are burdens on the same system that is used as an excuse for murdering us.