New research reveals over a quarter of people with a disfigurement have been a victim of hate crime

Changing Faces research shows seven in 10 people experience negative behaviour such as stares, abuse and bullying because of how they look.

Over a quarter (28%) of people with a disfigurement have experienced a hate crime, yet the majority did not go on to report it. That’s according to our new research, which reveals that seven in 10 people experience negative behaviour such as stares, abuse and bullying because of how they look.

The survey, conducted by Savanta ComRes of over 1,000 people with a visible difference, such as a mark or scar, provides for the first time an accurate picture of how those with visible differences are affected by hate crime.

While most abuse happens in public, over 40% of people with a visible difference have had negative experiences online and one in 10 say they are repeatedly harassed on social media.

We found that experiencing hostility and abuse can have a long-lasting impact. Almost half (45%) of those who have experienced negative behaviours say they have lost confidence, over a third (35%) say they now feel anxious when they go out and over a quarter (27%) say it has had a negative impact on their mental health.

It is not good enough that in 2020 people are still experiencing abuse and harassment because of how they look.

Becky Hewitt, Changing Faces CEO

We are releasing a hard-hitting film as part of our new hate crime campaign, Visible Hate. The campaign is supported by the Home Office and social media companies such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Actor and presenter Adam Pearson is one of six people with visible differences starring in the hate crime film. He says the levels of abuse he receives is tough to deal with at times.

“I’ve been abused in the street but I also get a lot of hate online. Some people say to me ‘well just quit social media’ but that’s not a solution. Why should victims of abuse be removed from social media platforms – it only further ostracises them.

“We need to highlight the impact of hate crime and cultivate an online landscape where people like me can exist and engage without being attacked simply for how we look. This is all about empathy, equality and education.”

Changing Faces CEO Becky Hewitt says: “It is not good enough that in 2020 people are still experiencing abuse and harassment because of how they look. For the first time this research shows us how many people are affected by appearance related hate crime and the impact it can have on their lives.

“We hope our campaign will help to stop the hate by giving people the confidence and the methods to report abuse. And we would urge the general public to support us so that these hate crimes are recognised and reported.”

Find out more about our Visible Hate campaign to learn how you can help stop hate crime, abuse and discrimination against people living with a visible difference.

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