A student who has a stoma bag for a debilitating condition says she was accused of “snorting, dealing and having sex in the disabled toilet” by staff at a UK pub after she visited the loo several times.
Amber Davies, 21, has a stoma after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 13.
She has penned an open letter to The Dragon Inn Wetherspoons in Birmingham calling for greater awareness of hidden disabilities after a staff member allegedly made the accusations citing that “there is no other reason I would need to visit it so often.”
Davies said the incident occurred during August. She wrote the open letter on her Instagram account detailing her experience and saying she wanted to stand up to “people like you in educating and raising awareness so that other sufferers don’t have to suffer this kind of difficulty, shame and awkwardness.”
Davies outlined in her letter how she has a stoma bag after numerous surgeries and failed treatments and described ulcerative colitis as a “chronic, debilitating and lifelong illness.”
She told how her stoma bag needs constant care and emptying up to 15 times a day and is an essential part of her everyday living.
Davies claims that despite her having a radar key to access the disabled toilet, the staff member “openly accused me of snorting, dealing and having sex” as they thought it was suspicious that she had gone to the toilet so many times.
Davies wrote: “I love my stoma and my stoma bag for the new lease of life they have given me, however, something I do not love, the stigmas and taboos within society and people’s assumptions/lack of understanding, empathy and education that come along with living with this thing.”
She added: “Being out with a group of lads made me look further ‘suspicious’, one of these being my boyfriend who assisted me in the disabled toilet on this final occasion and was taken aside and questioned separately.”
Davies says she wants better understanding and awareness of hidden disabilities. She said in her letter: “This is not a rant, simply a word of advice and perhaps a lesson to be learned for those that do currently see disability as restricted within the conforms of a wheelchair user.
“Many people in my shoes would have been extremely traumatised and uncomfortable to open up and talk about such a personal thing in such an intimidating and uncomfortable situation and I hate to think about what they’d have done in that moment.”
She finished with the words: “NOT EVERY DISABILITY IS VISIBLE.”
A JD Wetherspoon spokesman said: “A female member of door staff spoke with Ms Davies, who explained her disability.
“Staff expressed that if this had been known beforehand, or an explanation given sooner, the situation could have been avoided.
“Staff listened at length to Ms Davies’ points, never once questioning her disability and apologised for the confusing situation on both sides.”