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Spikes – and other ways disabled people combat unwanted touching

Bronwyn Berg became so fed-up with people manhandling her without asking, she put spikes on her wheelchair. And she’s not alone. With a spate of disabled people reporting unwanted touching some are taking action to stop it in its tracks. You’re minding your own business when – out of nowhere – a man you’ve never met puts his hands on your wheelchair. He starts to push you down the street and you have no control over where you’re going, BBC reports.

This happened to Berg. “It was really terrifying,” she says. Despite her screams “not a single person stopped to help”.

Berg, who has used a wheelchair since she acquired a brain injury five years ago, added metal spikes to the handles of her chair to make it harder for people to take control of her after this incident.

Being touched or grabbed by a stranger without warning or consent is still an all too-common experience for many disabled people. Although people believe they’re being helpful with their actions, an invasion of personal body space can be frightening.

Research from the charity Scope found two thirds of the British public feel uncomfortable when talking to disabled people. In particular, those aged 18-34 were twice as likely than older people to feel awkward.