Supporting Someone in an Abusive Relationship | Where to Get Help (UK)
Many autistic people find themselves in bullying or otherwise abusive relationships, whether with a partner, a family member, a colleague, a “friend”, or the woman down the road… Many more don’t realise, or struggle to accept, their situations could be abusive, and can’t work out what’s going on. Abusers will make much of your autism (or any other disability), blaming you for his or her own behaviour (e.g. “I’m only like this because you’re impossible to live with”). This leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-worth, anxiety, and depression.
Autistic people are particularly vulnerable to abuse: we don’t instinctively understand “normal” social interaction; we often don’t understand that other people think differently; we can be poor judges of character; we often feel ostracised and isolated by society; we spend our lives being told we’re “wrong” even by people who love us – so we’ve given up listening by the time we’re warned about an abuser; we’re often seen as fussy and oversensitive – so people don’t listen when we ask for help; we are often already suffering depression/anxiety; we often have cripplingly low self-esteem; we are very often needy and desperate for approval. This all makes us prime candidates for manipulation.
In early 2014, Life on the Spectrum conducted a random online-survey, asking 100 autistic people (with both formal and self-diagnoses) if they had been bullied/abused, what type of bullying/abuse they had experienced, and who had perpetrated it. The results were worrying, and showed that further research was essential.
We are now colaborating with a social researcher to design new, more in-depth surveys, starting with the experiences of autistic adults in the UK; if you would like to be involved, please sign up to our “research” newsletter in the sidebar. Alternatively, look out for more information on the research pages in the new year.
This “Abuse” section of the website is being developed gradually, with Abuse Tactics, The Cycle of Abuse, Where to Get Help (UK), and Early Warning Signs are already in place. Watch out for “Coping Strategies” coming soon. If there is any particular topic you would like to see covered, please let us know.