Seven in ten people have experienced negative behaviours

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

New hate crime survey of over 1,000 people with a visible difference by charity Changing Faces reveals:

  • Seven in ten people have experienced negative behaviours because of their visible difference;
  • Over a quarter (28%) of people with a visible difference have experienced a hate crime;
  • Of those who experienced a hate crime, about 70% did not report it;
  • One in ten people with a disfigurement say they are repeatedly harassed on social media;
  • 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.

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 the charity Changing Faces whose new research reveals that seven in ten 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.

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

The charity 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.

The charity is releasing a hard-hitting film as part of its new Hate Crime campaign – #VisibleHate. 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 and 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.”


Notes to Editor

If you would like to get a copy of the film or interview someone from Changing Faces, or a Changing Faces champion who has experience of living with a visible difference, please contact:

Gemma Davidson (gemma.davidson1@icloud.com) or Gill Owen (GillO@changingfaces.org.uk)

  • During office hours 07986 396571/ 020 7391 9264
  • Outside office hours 07823 348125

Background

  • Nearly 1 in 5 people self-identify as having a visible difference such as a mark, scar or condition.
  • At least 1.3 million children, young people and adults in the UK are estimated to have significant disfigurements, including 569,000 with facial disfigurements.

Changing Faces is the UK’s leading charity for everyone who has a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different. For over 25 years they have been providing advice and support, challenging discrimination, and campaigning for a world that respects difference.

Survey findings

Savanta ComRes interviewed 1,006 people with a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different online between 23 October and 11 November 2019. Data were weighted to be representative of those with a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different by age, gender and region. This weighting scheme was sourced from a nationally representative public omnibus survey run between the 22nd and 24th March 2019.

Hate crime

  • Over a quarter (28%) of people with a visible difference have experienced a hate crime.
  • Of those people with a visible difference who experienced a hate crime, about 70% did not report it.
  • Two in five (38%) people with a visible difference do not know how to report a hate crime against them.
  • The majority (90%) of people with a visible difference have heard of hate crime but over a third (36%) say they don’t know much about what it means.

Negative behaviours

  • Seven in ten (68%) people with a visible difference have experienced negative behaviours because of their visible difference.
  • Two in five (39%) people with a visible difference have experienced stares, a third (32%) have had negative comments and a quarter (25%) have faced bullying.
  • Almost half (46%) of those who have been stared at, say this happened in the street.
  • Women with visible differences are much more likely to experience verbal abuse in the street compared to men (45% versus 28%).
  • Men with visible differences are more likely to experience negative comments at work compared to women (14% versus 6%).

Social media

  • Overall, people with a visible difference are more likely to have a positive than negative experience on social media. However nearly one in five (18%) have had an overall negative experience on Facebook.
  • Over 40% (42%) of people with a visible difference have had negative experiences online.
  • A quarter (24%) of people with a visible difference have experienced someone posting negative comments about them or about an image of them on social media. For many (24%) of those who have experienced this, it happens weekly or more frequently.
  • One in ten (10%) say they are repeatedly harassed on social media.
  • Younger people (aged 18-34 years) are nearly twice as likely to experience someone posting negative comments about them or their image on social media compared to older age groups (39% versus 20% for 35-54 years).

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.
  • One in ten (9%) say negative behaviours have stopped them using social media and one in six (15%) say it has stopped them going out.
  • Women are more likely than men to say negative behaviour has made them lose confidence (54% verses 34%), made them feel more anxious when they go out (41% verses 28%) or had a negative impact on their mental health (34% verses 19%).

 

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