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  1. ITV Report

'I was called ugly because of my wheelchair' - The Plymouth Paralympian fighting back against web trolls

An award-winning Paralympic athlete has told ITV News she has been subjected to a torrent of online abuse - but says it has made her more determined to use technology to spread her message of hope.

Doaa Shayea, from Plymouth, has launched a YouTube channel which she hopes will change people's perception of disability and inspire a younger generation.

Doaa was born with spina bifida, and says her disability led to struggles with her mental health.

Doaa Shayea says she has developed a 'thicker skin' after years of abusive comments. Credit: ITV News

Doaa said: "I've not always been this confident, I haven't always been able to speak about personal things that have happened to me, comments and things people have done that made me literally want to lock myself in my room and never leave the house because I'm so different to everyone else.

I would hit my legs because I felt so different and felt like I was so isolated because of the way that I was. I've had a lot of comments calling me bedridden, I've been called a retard and that I'm thick, I'll never be anything because of my wheelchair.

– Doaa Shayea

She added: "I've had that I'm ugly, the way that I look because I'm different it makes me ugly.

"The years of it going on and on, literally you just build that thicker skin and you can handle whatever gets thrown at you."

As a teenager, Doaa won awards for her sporting achievements - she even carried the the Queen's Commonwealth Games baton through Plymouth in 2014 - and now she wants to use her profile to inspire youngsters living with a disability.

Despite her positive outlook, Doaa feels there is still a long way to go in our attitudes towards disability.

Doaa shares her experiences on YouTube. Credit: ITV News

I'm not letting the bad experiences turn me into a cold, bitter disabled person, I'm being that person that someone can look up to, can learn from and know they will be whoever they want to be, and be as successful as they want to be, because I'm there to give them that push and let them know that it's going to happen.

All I want to achieve if anything is acceptance for people who have a disability, to be able to live a normal happy life and have every opportunity that any other able bodied person can.

– Doaa Shayea
Doaa won awards for her sporting prowess as a teenager. Credit: PA Images

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