Woman with disability scared to get parking permit

SCARED OF ABUSE: Andrew Leppien, Kate Martin and Midget know first hand the pain of being judged from the outside.
SCARED OF ABUSE: Andrew Leppien, Kate Martin and Midget know first hand the pain of being judged from the outside. Molly Glassey

A WARWICK woman suffering from a debilitating disease has begged residents to understand disabilities might not always be visible from the outside.

At a glance, Kate Martin, looks like a perfectly healthy, happy woman in her prime.

But on the inside, her joints are turning against her, causing her extreme pain at the hands of rheumatoid arthritis.

"There are some days I can't walk," she said.

"I've been talking about getting a disability parking permit for myself, but I have this fear of being abused by other people."

Ms Martin said a recent incident of a Sunshine Coast teenager who was told she "didn't look disabled enough" for a disabled parking permit reminded her how quick people were to judge those with disabilities that cannot be seen.

"When the story came up on my Facebook newsfeed I thought, 'oh my gosh, not again'," she said.

"What really annoyed me was the reminder my father had rheumatoid arthritis also.

"At the end he couldn't drive, so I was driving him everywhere and he had the disabled sticker on the car.

"I would park to drop him off, then pick him up and I would get abused for that.

"Most people think, 'well you're not in a wheelchair, you don't deserve it'."

Ms Martin's partner and carer Andrew Leppien said despite her strength, there were days she could barely get out of bed.

"Most of time you wouldn't know," he said.

"And when you hear of stories of people being abused... it's people being quick to judge... thinking 'why do they have something I'm not getting?'"

Ms Martin encouraged all to think twice before jumping to conclusions about those with disabled permits.

"I don't want to have to explain myself, my pain, to strangers," she said.

"And this abuse is becoming more common; that's the scary thing."

Topics:  disability

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