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The truth behind being a victim of hate crime

As part of our Hate Crime Awareness Campaign, which began this week, we are focusing on the impact of hate crime. We are sharing the powerful stories of people who have experienced hate crime in the hope of inspiring other victims to come forward and report.

These powerful stories are a perfect starting point for our campaign as they demonstrate the impact hate crime can have on an individual. Hate Crime is never acceptable but many suffer in silence, believing that it is just a part of life. As our stories show, you should celebrate difference and challenge prejudice.

Join our campaign to raise awareness of hate crime and encourage victims to report it. Share your pictures and stories of celebrating diversity and pledge your support using the hashtag #celebratenothate and share at @ASPolice and on the Avon and Somerset police Facebook page.

Our aim is to increase awareness of hate crime so people will recognise it and realise that hate crime is never acceptable and the importance to not just accept it but report it.

Your stories

Andy's Story

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When I was younger, I lived with my parents in Banwell, North Somerset where I was a victim of some very serious Hate Crime. People would light fireworks in the letterbox at the front of the house. They would tear up the front garden on motorbikes and verbally abuse me. It got so bad that I was afraid to leave the house without my parents.

The animosity led to regular bouts of depression every time I was the victim of Hate Crime. People First are always there for me when I get down, I know that there is always someone I can talk to which gives me such a boost in confidence and brings me back up again.

To somebody who is being victimised because of who they are I would tell them to never be afraid to talk to someone. There are good people out there and they want to help.

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Gaby's Story

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I was born in Wales and was sold into marriage in the Yemen when I was 13 years old. I came back to the UK a single parent in 1992 with five small children. We moved to Paignton in 1995 to be closer to my sister. My kids are African Yemeni and when we arrived they didn’t speak any English.

There weren’t many families like us in Paignton and we experienced ongoing racism and became the victims of hate crime. We were having a lot of problems and because I couldn’t find help for my kids I was fighting back physically. My kids were being attacked and when one of my sons was punched I threatened the perpetrator and was arrested. SARI stepped in and brought my family to Bristol. That was in 1998 and if it hadn’t been for SARI I don’t know what we would have done.

I still see hatred everyday and sometimes we still come across racism but nothing like we did before. The big difference now is my family understand how to deal with it and where to go for help if we ever needed to. My kids know that racism stems from lack of understanding and a fear of the unknown. I’ve taught them to be themselves and never change who they are.

The police don’t always get it right but everybody makes mistakes. So whilst my experiences haven’t always been positive we want to work with the police. My message to anyone experiencing hate crime is report it because without SARI I don’t know where my kids and I would be now.

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Helen's Story

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I joined the MET when I was 22 and was in various uniform roles for 20 years. I transferred to Avon and Somerset in 7 years ago. I am one of the founder members of the LGBT liaison team and chair of the force Gay Police Association.

Personally I have never been a victim of Hate Crime, but several of my close colleagues on the LGBT team have experienced abuse whilst on duty. This is why we work closely with LGBT Bristol and other anti-hate crime organisations to make sure that there is support for people who experience this sort of crime.

To somebody that was being victimised because of who they are I would tell them to try and find the courage to reach out to people who can help them. They can do this by contacting the LGBT team via Twitter or Email, or calling 101 and asking the switchboard if a member of the LGBT team is on duty. If not, your message will be passed to the team and one of us will contact you as soon as we can. There is always somebody who is willing to help you.

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Iain's Story

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I was born in Bristol and have lived all over the Avon and Somerset community. I’ve moved from one hospital to another, from Clevedon to Wells, finally settling in Weston. I have lived here for 4 years now.

I used to hang around with bad people who I thought were my friends. They would take advantage of my gullibility and would tell me to get into fights. If I told them I didn’t want to fight they would threatened me with violence. I don’t see these people anymore and only hang around with good people.

For six months I have been employed as a quality checker for North Somerset People First, which involves going around homes of people who live in supported living and making sure they’re happy with their situation. I then type up reports that get sent off to the commissioners.

To somebody being victimised for who they are, I would give them the simple message of ‘Sticks and Stones may break my bones…’ People can say what they like to me but it doesn’t affect me anymore. I have good people around me who help and support me and I know that People First are always here.

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Janet's Story

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Janet McHale is an outreach manager for Action for Hearing Loss in Twerton, Bath. She has more than 30 clients.

She said: “Deaf people experience intolerance, ignorance and prejudice all the time because of their disability but don’t often report it as a hate crime.

“People think we’re stupid because we’re deaf. I’m pretty confident so I can stand up for myself, but many others are not. People often ask if I’m allowed to drive, and can’t believe I’m a manager, because I’m deaf. It makes me laugh, but I get cross too.

“Having police officers who can use sign language is a real benefit to the deaf community. It gives us the confidence and ability to communicate with police and to report any problems we have. Without that I think many deaf people would be reluctant to have contact with the police.”

PC Adrian (Adge) Secker is the Twerton beat manager and a qualified deaf signer.

He said: “From my point of view being able to sign, however badly, means I can have a conversation with a member of the public who wouldn’t normally be able to talk to the police – even if it’s just to chat about the football results.

“A lot of people in the deaf community feel isolated from services they are entitled too like anyone else. Anything we can do to improve communication with the police can only be a good thing.”

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Jo's Story

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I am a parent of a child with autism. My daughter is nine years old. Being out and about in public can be very difficult as my daughter's behaviour is seen by some members of the public as a nuisance and socially unacceptable. We feel very judged in public if my daughter experiences sensory overload which leads to behaviours such as shouting and screaming. We get stared at with looks of disapproval and receive negative comments about our parenting ability.

Autism can be seen as a hidden disability, it is not always obvious why a person may be behaving differently to others. Diversity is important as it enables greater inclusion for those with a disability and increases understanding and acceptance of difference in others.

More diversity can only bring benefits to all.

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Lucy's Story

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I always knew I was a woman but I born with male genitalia which led to me being assigned male at birth. I think I knew from the age of four that I was not a boy but I grew up in the 70s and 80s and it was incredibly difficult to reassign your gender back then.

Instead, I portrayed a very masculine persona, struggled through school and followed a stereotypically male career in engineering. I'd heard of transgender people and knew I was probably one of them, but I was in deep denial.

My partner didn’t have a clue that I was dressing as a woman in private and the guilt was killing me. In 2010, after much soul searching, I decided to tell my partner everything. I decided to accept the risk she might not stay with me but I had to tell her. There were a few tears but it actually went really well. I spent two years exploring my identity as Lucy and then, in 2012, I changed my name by deed poll. I started on the process of medical transitioning and this ended in January this year with surgery to correct that genitalia. I feel like I'm at peace with myself and life is deeply content.

My partner supported me throughout the whole experience and I’m pleased to say we're now engaged to be married next year. But I’m sorry to say I've experienced hate crime in the past. I've reported three incidents to the police – two verbal and one physical attack. My message to anyone experiencing hate crime is to talk to someone about it. I can say that the police will take people seriously because that’s my experience; I can’t fault them for their response and I was well supported.

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Mark's Story

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I was born and raised in Weston-super-Mare and I love it here. I live at home with my parents and I get a cooked breakfast every morning so why would I move out? I am the chair-person on the committee for North Somerset People First as well as co-chair of the North Somerset Learning Disability Partnership Board.

I often do work as a ‘Mystery Shopper’. This is where I visit different locations to make sure that their facilities for disabled people are up to scratch. Whether this be in the form of ‘easy read menus’ or sufficient training of staff in the Safe Places scheme.

I am often the victim of abuse from people on the street who I’ve never met. Just last week, a car drove past me and Andy and they shouted abuse out of the window at us and people often mock how I walk. It doesn’t get me upset and I just feel sorry for them, I feel sorry for them being so ignorant.

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Rudi's Story

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I moved from Barbados to the UK 59 years ago with just one friend and no family. I have been living in and around the Avon and Somerset community for most of that time. I was a Counsellor for 15 years and in 1999 I became the first and only black chair of the South Gloucestershire Council which I enjoyed very much, serving my community was incredibly rewarding. After my time in office I became a Deputy Lieutenant and representative of the Queen and Lord Lieutenant in their absence from local events. I was on the only black member of the team of Deputy Lieutenants in the South Gloucestershire area.

I can honestly say that I have never been a victim of hate crime myself however I believe that being black held me back in my career to a certain extent. I just never used to let it stop me and had a very successful time.

To somebody who is being victimised because of who they are I would tell them to report it straight to the police and remember that there are various organisations like SARI that can help and support you through tough times.

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Report it

Reporting hate incidents and hate crimes provides valuable information to the police. You may have information that can lead to the identification, arrest and prosecution of an offender. Evidence that a crime has been aggravated by prejudice can lead to an increased sentence at court.

If you feel you are becoming a victim of hate crime we would prefer to speak to you on the phone (by calling us on 101) or in person.

If you would prefer to contact us online you can do so by filling in the Report a crime or incident form.