In 1964, Victoria Mavis had a tragic injury at the age of four that resulted in brain trauma which left her partially paralyzed and disabled. Facing a grim diagnosis, she fought for her life and had to relearn basic functions such as walking and talking. Despite the endless physical therapy she endured as a child while confined to a wheelchair, she was left with a walking disability post-injury that would worsen over time, thereby causing her lifelong reliance on a wheelchair or forearm crutches for her daily mobility.
Within a year of her disabled accident, Victoria Mavis would be the first child with a physical handicap to enter a school system that wasn’t equipped structurally or culturally for her special needs, or for that matter for disabilities of any type. It was a period marked in history when those with mental or physical disabilities were shunned in public or institutionalized; but that’s not the vision her parents had for her, despite her obvious disability.
Victoria Mavis, armed with her disability, wheelchair, and her walking stick (forearm crutch) which she named ‘Steve’ has been a pioneer for equality of treatment for individuals with disabilities starting in an era when people who were disabled were considered social misfits, were openly ridiculed, and were discriminated against for access to public systems because of their disabilities. Victoria paved the way for others who ‘didn’t fit in’ long before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was ever proposed or before ‘bullying’ was a community epidemic to resolve.
Victoria Mavis has grown professionally and thrived in a world where her handicap (with or without the accompaniment of a wheelchair or forearm crutch) was the ‘pink elephant’ in the room which no one spoke about—including her. Details of her disability did not exist in a public dialogue or open conversation, as few outside her immediate family ever knew the story of what caused her injury and knew even less of the horrific discrimination based on her disability that she faced over the years by those who judged her abilities (ableism) only by the gait of her walk. Friends, coworkers, and everyone she encountered would only be left with the power of her presence and her sheer will and determination to succeed, despite her limiting physical disability.
Her book, Every Scar Tells a Story, is inspired by a lifetime of hardships and challenges (not just those associated with disabilities), and strength to overcome whatever roadblocks may have been placed in one’s life either inadvertently or unconsciously. Its message is simple and clear; to share her hurdles and that of her characters with insights on how they were overcome, so that others may do the same on their journey to a fulfilled life through their own form of ableism.