How do you stand up for yourself?

What do you do if someone makes fun of your stutter? Especially because it can be a challenge to verbally defend yourself.

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How do you stand up for yourself? — 4 Comments

  1. I wrote this as a reply to another question in this forum about reacting when a professional makes an offensive comment.

    I had a situation last year with a health professional. I had an appointment with my primary care physician and as is customary, I was called in to the doctors area by a nurse. Without really greeting me or anything, she directed me towards the scale. (I absolutely hate being weighed in front of others.)

    As we approached the scale, she asked me to verify my birth date. I began with December 12, and I stuttered on the “12” so it sounded like “ta-ta-12.” She laughed. I then continued with the “13” which sounded like “tha-tha-thirteen.” The nurse laughed again, so I asked her what was she laughing at. She said “well, you seemed confused about your birth date.” I said no, I obviously know my birthdate. I just stutter.” At first she said nothing, so I said “you laughed when I said my birthdate.” She then said “well, it wasn’t a trick question.”

    I was hugely offended and momentarily unable to respond. I did eventually say, “I stutter,” and she laughed again.

    She never apologized. I couldn’t believe this had happened with a medical professional. If she so casually made fun of me, an adult, what if it were a child or teen, who might not have had the courage to speak up?

    I wound up contacting the CEO’s office regarding this situation, and I was put in touch with the head of the medical associates practice. I shared what happened. He apologized, and assured me that their group does not stand for this type of negative behavior. I was then put in touch with one of the nurse educators and actually went out to lunch with her and a colleague of hers. They wanted to know what happened. They apologized.

    Long story short, from that scenario, we went on to create a 10 minute PSA training video about stuttering and interactions with health professionals that became a mandatory part of all new hire training during onboarding of any new employee – receptionist, nurse, nurse practitioner, medical assistant all the way up to doctors.

    I was thrilled that I had the stamina and courage to stick with this and that something positive had come of the situation.

    • Wow. I am so sorry that that happened to you, especially with a medical professional! Knowing that you said something and took it to a higher level of management makes me feel so proud. You turned the situation into something great, and life-changing, by creating the 10 minute PSA training video.

  2. Hi Maddy

    I’ve met loads of verbal abuse. From people who were abusive, but also from people who mean well. Comments like “take a deep breath” (if it were that easy, don’t you think I’ve done that?), “you don’t have to be nervous/afraid” (I’m not /nervousafraid, you’re the one feeling uncomfortable, so why not listen to what I have to say instead) and “wow, you didn’t stutter” (so if I stutter, that’s a bad thing?), interrupting or filling in my words as if I were unable or unimportant enough to express my own thoughts, are hurtful. Not to mention that train assistant whom I asked where there my train was, and he took my hand and my bag and told me “Don’t worry sweetie, I’ll take you there”. I was in my 30s.

    My reactions depends on the situation. If the person is not important, if I’m in a hurry, I simply ignore it. Carry my bag for all that matters. 😉 But mostly I educate. I tell them that it’s hurtful. Because most of the time they don’t know and they might hurt others. For, how would they know they are doing something wrong, when we don’t tell them?

    Tougher are those who deliberatly are offensive. Story of my youth. Do read my paper for this year’s ISAD online conference. I wish parents and SLPs would help kids to give them the words to reply, or the courage to walk away, knowing they are the strongest not to even bother replying. What if someone mimicks and a child says “You go ahead. You’ll never be as good as me”. (I made a button saying “Sure I stutter. What are you good at?” which takes the wind from the sails. 🙂 ) Or “Yes I stutter, but it’s not contagious, so do you want to be my friend?”. Or simply wear a FrankyBanky button with all the funny, positive quotes like “What I say is worth repeating”.

    I once spoke in a class and had a tough stutter day. The teens all started to laugh out loud. I was devestated. But when I gathered myself I told them “Go ahead and laugh, as stuttering does sound funny sometimes. But when you’re done, I’ll tell you how funny stuttering really is.” And told them about the bullying and my suicide attempt. Afterwards they stayed and apologized.

    And stand up for our rights. Like when I was invited to speak to the European Parliament. Everyone got 3 min. Not a second more. I told them I stutter and should have the right to say just as much as others are able to say in 3 min. I got 4 min. 😉

    People will always laugh over things they don’t understand. So let’s make them understand.

    Stay safe and keep talking

    Anita Blom

  3. I tell that I stutter (If I had not before). I tried to do it in a nice way with a joke. If it continues, I go staright to the point, and say that it bothers me but if he/she wants we can talk more about stuttering

    I had my first meeting in my new job 10 days ago. I stuttered a lot, My manager was “shocked” and she just let met feel that it may be complicated, and she did not want to talk about it
    I went to the HR, shared documentation about stuttering. All the leaders of the company have to read this documentation now

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