A COUNTY Limerick woman with Down syndrome who has endured years of taunts and hurtful comments says she wishes the bullies on the street would treat her like a human being.
Ann Marie Lyons first became the target of bullies in her late teens.
The situation, she says, has escalated to the point that she now has to endure stones being thrown as her - she was even pushed off her bike while cycling to work in the city last September.
“They throw things at me out the car windows like stones and things like that. I do get upset. I just want it to stop. I wish they would be nice to me and treat me like a human being not a dog,” said Ann Marie this week.
It is understood the incident in which Ann Marie was pushed off her bike was reported to the gardai and CCTV footage was examined but the perpetrators were not apprehended.
“I hurt myself. I hurt my chest, my leg and my hand. I went to the doctor. She thinks it was OK but there was a big bruise and it was paining me for a couple of weeks,” she explained
The 42-year-old, who works in the city centre says she tries to ignore the taunts from the group of individuals who often number between 10 and 20.
“They don’t even know me or what I’m like. They call me names and tell me I’m ugly. Sometimes I answer them back and sometimes I ignore them.”
Ann Marie says she no longer cycles to work due to the dark evenings - instead she takes the bus, where again, she must endure hurtful comments.
“I get the bus but they are on the bus too. I get off the bus if they are on the bus – I get the next bus. There is one guy on Facebook and he is calling me a dog on Facebook,” she said.
While she says she does her best to shrug off the hurtful jibes, they tend to get to her at night when she reflects on what has been said and done to her during the day.
Her courage in speaking out about her experiences has been applauded, with Cllr Mary Jackman describing Ann Marie as “a role model” for others in similar situations.
“I would have noticed her around the street, minding her own business and she is quite a happy person,” said the Castletroy-based councillor who is a former secondary school teacher.
“To think that people go through life with that intensity of bullying particularly if there is anything different or in relation to a disability - it is absolutely shocking.
“In Irish society now, these things are no longer swept under the carpet. What will happen now is she will be a role model for others who maybe are shy, and certainly that will help them to tell their nearest and dearest or confide in a friend. It will certainly remove a lot of stress from their lives and I would applaud her,” said Cllr Jackman.