The #METOO movement is a rallying cry for generations of women, men and children who have been abused. From despicable bosses who required sexual favors for professional advancement to those who believed that their wealth entitled them to prey on the vulnerable, it is time that that we stand up for those who have been taunted, ridiculed and called liars when they have tried to seek justice and recognition. But, if you ponder thousands of patient stories, the #metoo also applies to many in the IC patient community.
Several years ago, I spoke at length with a young IC patient was working in a Japanese automobile factory in the USA. She was struggling to make her case for disability leave and access to a restroom at work. She was brought into a room of male corporate executives who then asked her to demonstrate how she self-catheterized. True? Oh yes, that’s very true. Their intent was to demean and intimidate and they did it well. She heroically fought back with a successful disability discrimination complaint.
A man with IC was working for a major cell phone company. His female supervisor purposely relabelled the men’s restroom as a women’s restroom (despite the fact that there was already a women’s bathroom on that floor) on his floor to force him to go to another floor to use the restroom. He documented multiple incidents over years of abuse. I knew him well and he was truly suffering from severe IC and a workplace who simply did not believe him and refused to provide disability accommodation. His treatment and sexual harassment was inexcusable and he filed multiple disability discrimination complaints which he eventually won. Exhausted from years of stress, he sadly of a heart attack shortly afterwards. I miss you Bard!
In Oprah Winfrey’s magnificent speech at the Golden Globes, she said that the most powerful weapon we have is to speak our truth. We must speak out when we are harmed and disrespected. And, more importantly, we must support others who have been hurt, harassed and/or abused. This means that we believe them when they say they are in pain. It means that we help them when they need to find treatment. It means that we stand with them when they seek justice.
Have you been harassed because of your IC? Please tell us your story!