Fuck being a victim, or continue experiencing abuse after it’s spotted.
If I can recognize it, and when I do recognize it, done. No apologies. And an extra go-fuck-yourself automatically included. Free of charge.
The trick is how to recognize an abusive relationship when Autistic (or Neurodiverse) traits make it not understood until far too late.
Cutting ties to an abusive person includes a few consistent patterns in my experience — actually all my past abusers from childhood to recent (physical, sexual, emotional or gaslighting type) shared these traits:
I’m to blame. They are the victim and I’m the one that caused the issues and at fault for the abuse. If the abuser suffers any consequences for their behaviors, that’s some fault of mine they had to suffer.
The abuser is always publicly, loudly, quietly, always the victim. Someone is always at fault for their behaviors and no responsibility is accepted. They are a life-long, professional victim seeking pity, not help.
In a few situations, I’ve learned that telling the abuser they are what they are — will come with severe punishment. In one case doing so almost cost my life. That was an incredibly tense few hours until safety arrived in a friend who braved the situation and got me out. (Note: Don’t EVER do this. Just get out somehow and safe.)
So, before you get that far, or are in so deep you can’t breathe or see a reality other than the abuser’s and need help delineating personal rights, read this article, “In the Abuser’s Controlling Mind” published at Agape Aid.
My Autistic mind has started sorting information like this into a set of “safety patterns.” The patterns I talk about below are immediate safety-pattern breakers, also known as red flags.
It’s been my experience that many Neurodiverse folks, like me, have difficulties in recognizing abuse in inter-personal relationships. Often we are involved in incredibly bad situations and don’t understand or recognize the danger until long after the damage has been done. On the other hand, predators can spot us immediately.
Nowadays, in my life skills toolbox, I have an incredible support network that includes Neurotypicals who can see bullshit immediately and alert me to high-risk situations and people. These folks I trust with my life — and they understand me — to guide me into a safer space and support me in setting stronger boundaries. I check in with them quite often for advice and, frankly, all new friends have to pass their inspection.
I’m a social pattern observer and then bounce (mimic) them back until I start recognizing the ones that seem more correct. The danger in that is the abuser’s reality becomes the acceptable reality because those are the acceptable patterns. Of course, over time, those patterns aren’t acceptable anymore and the scramble to learn new ones on the fly is intense, exhausting and debilitating.
It feels like the survival skill of “blending” sets the trap easy for abuser’s to step in and trigger that fucker — pattern set and welcome to hell. All the while the Autistic, me, is trying to figure out how I keep getting it wrong. What is the social norm? What is the hiccup and how do I fix it? Smile more? Focus on them more? Figure out a way to make them feel more included? And later, be silent. Be invisible. Show no emotion and maybe there’s a possibility to survive. No patterns are good. Not in the end.
It’s my personal interest to start collecting information, reading articles (like the one mentioned) that show abuse patterns — and to learn, and help others learn, how to be more safe in a confusing world.
Here are some traits highlighted from the article that I know to be true, all of my abusers have expressed, and impacted my life in a horrific manner.
If you see these patterns in your life, don’t confront the person. Never confront them. Get help and get out. (No words yet on how to do this. Something I must explore in more detail.)
>> Playing Victim
Occasionally the abuser will pretend to be helpless or will act persecuted in order to manipulate others into helping her.
Here, the abuser thinks that if she doesn’t get what she wants, she is the victim; and she uses the disguise of victim to get back at or make fools of others.
Abusers are able to cry easier than most when the victim role or manipulative tactics require it.
The abuser typically is very possessive. Moreover, he believes that anything he wants should be his, and he can do as he pleases with anything that is his.
- This attitude applies to people as well as to possessions.
- This justifies his controlling behavior, physically hurting others, and taking things that belong to them.
Abusers are extremely possessive and believe that they should get everything they want. They also feel they can do whatever they wish with their possession and abusers see their partner or spouse as something they own.
They feel they are justified in hurting their victim by taking their possessions, attacking them emotionally, psychologically and physically and controlling all aspects of their life.
An abuser’s thought patterns lead them to often assume they know what others, including their victim, are thinking or feeling.
- Their assumption allows them to justify their behavior because they “know” what the other person would think or do in a given situation.
- They then use this warped logic to blame these people for their behavior.
- The abuser shifts responsibility for his actions away from himself and onto others, a shift that allows him to justify his abuse and anger because the other person supposedly “caused” his behavior.
The abuser’s negative mind-set makes everybody else an idiot. The abuser also belittles, berates and puts other people down verbally, as a way of making himself look superior and to make himself feel more powerful.
Female abusers have a feminine macho attitude and look down at feminine qualities as vulnerabilities.
- When anyone says or does anything that doesn’t fit his glorified self-image, the abuser takes it as an insult.
- They exhibit a confusing mixture of superiority and inadequacy.
- They show macho confidence, except for circumstances where low self-esteem is required, i.e. they portray themselves as victims.
>> Making Excuses
Instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, the abuser tries to justify his behavior with excuses.
The abuser’s mind tells him that he is never to blame for any negative behavior.
It is usually the victim, or the victim’s family and friends who are the cause for the negative behaviour. Never accept that.
>> Success Fantasies
Abusers believe that they would be famous and rich if the victim and other people weren’t holding them back.
He uses this belief to justify his abuse and he feels he is justified in retaliating in any way he can, including physical and emotional abuse.
He puts others down, including the victim. In his mind, “They are idiots.”
>> Emotional Dependency
Abusers are emotionally dependent on their victim. This causes an inner rage that encourages the abuser to lash out. Because he is so dependent, he takes control of his victim’s life. This is the way he denies his weaknesses and make himself feel powerful.
- Symptoms of emotional dependency include, excessive jealousy, jealous rages and possessive actions that are usually sexual in nature.
- Abusers spend an excessive amount of time monitoring the action and movements of their victims.
- Often, abusers have no support network and lack those supportive roles that others depend upon.
Another sign of emotional dependency is the extreme affect the abuser suffers if his victim leaves. He will go to any lengths to get the victim to return.
Eve Hinson | Badass Founder, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief
Eve Hinson is an Autistic activist, speaker, writer and artist. Also the founder of AmericanBadassActivists.org
She launched the site in April 2016 after an incredibly successful protest, #TheReal5150 campaign, against institutionalized stigma promoted in grocery stores by an energy drink.
Today she focuses on sharing her lived-experience with PTSD and Functional Neurological Disorder to law enforcement, first responders, and students. Eve has been trained by Each Mind Matters and NAMI on advocacy and how to help break the stigma of living with a severe mental illness.
Eve is a medicinal cannabis patient and advocate too.
In her previous life, she participated in the wave of technology that changed the world and loved it. It all began at fresnobee.com in 1996.