Respect: the Other, Better R-Word

By Kris Miller, Self-Advocate

Kris 1My name is Kris. I have been supported by Hammer Residences for about 25 years. I would like to share some of my thoughts and experiences about bullying and why I hope everyone will stop using the R-word.

I want you to know that no one should use the R-word. If you do not know what the R-word is, R stands for Retarded, and I will only refer to it as the R-word going forward. It is an awful word, and it causes pain to many people, myself included. R should stand for Respect.

Stop saying the R-word. It hurts my feelings. Be respectful about disabilities. Be nicer. Treat us as normal people.

Kris 2When I was in school, people teased me a lot. In high school, people put tape in my hair and spit on me while calling me the R-word. Someone even punched me in the stomach while calling me that word.  That made me upset. It made me cry like crazy. When they called me the R-word, it made me feel ashamed, like I was less of a person.

I hear the R-word in the movies. I hear it in music and on television. I have to turn off the television or stop listening to the music. It is a painful, negative word.

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Yes, I have a disability. But like everyone else, I feel really good and happy when I am treated with respect. I think people do not always understand. I encourage people to ask me questions. I tell them that I have a learning disability and that makes it hard for me to learn things. However, I still have feelings and try very hard to learn new things. Things usually turn around for the better when people begin to understand. Afterwards, it can be a very positive relationship.

I want people who may be bullied to know that they can stand up for their rights. Say: “Stop saying that!” or “Stop teasing me” or “Be respectful and treat me like everyone else!”

I respectfully ask that everyone speak with words that are not hurtful and not support or allow others to spread the R-word. One person at a time, we can stop the use of this negative word! Make your pledge here.


  1. Dan Pysno

    Well said, Kris!

  2. Melissa Hutchins

    Kris, you are a courageous woman to step forward and tell your story. I am glad to see you making a stand and helping people become more aware of how their words might impact others. Great Blog!

  3. Suzanne Wanous

    R should stand for respect – I love that! Well done, Kris – thanks for sharing.

  4. ellen

    Kris is a role model to all of us. Her self confidence is inspiring. Thank you Kris!

  5. Peter Schaffran

    Awesome blog Kris! Very well done!

  6. Terriann Matejcek

    Thanks for your spirit and words, Kris. You are an inspiration.

  7. bethany collins

    Kris, wow what an inspiration you are!!
    You go girl!!

  8. Peggy Swanson

    Sharing your story will bring more of an awareness! You make a difference for many who have or will experience. Great job Kris! Proud of you!

  9. Cate Saracen Peters

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughtful remarks,Kris. You have always been such an inspirational leader. Here’s to RESPECT!

  10. Adele Tutland

    Kris, What a wonderful, well-written article. You are such a beautiful person, inside and out! You make all of us that know you so proud. Love you.

  11. Ann Martinka

    Kris , Thanks for sharing your story….you ROCK!

  12. Tom Russeth

    Nice job Kris!

  13. Kristin

    Thanks Kris for your helpful and meaningful words against bullying. Very well written!


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