0 Blogging About Autism: As an adult with autism or Asperger's, how do you stay safe and make sure no one manipulates and takes advantage of you?

Sunday, 22 September 2019

As an adult with autism or Asperger's, how do you stay safe and make sure no one manipulates and takes advantage of you?

My answer to someone who wants to know how to stay safe with autism.
I honestly wish I could give you an amazing answer that aspies could read and even print off to make use of to always be safe. My answer is drawn from numerous bad experiences with abusive people and sexual predators. I wake up each day wishing I I could forget the painful and haunting memories of the past. This is just my opinion and I don’t speak for every autistic person or anything (we already have enough people doing that without our permission.) but I feel that staying safe is near to impossible for many of us and I am about to explain why that has been the case for me.
Too Many Chances
I was always really trusting with people and I always gave people way too many chances. I always wanted to see the good in people and it almost feels like it is ingrained in me to look for it. The more that people hurt me and rejected me the more I desired to win them over. Or to at least understand what I had done wrong to deserve such behavior coming my way. I am very interested in psychology and why people act the way they do. I am always trying to be friendly and nice to people and do the right thing in every situation.
Wrong Signals
Sometimes I can be feeling absolute terror and dread and think that is showing on the outside but the person looking at me thinks I am calm. On other occasions I have thought I was giving a friendly vibe to somebody and they asked me if I was afraid of them. On other occasions I went shopping alone in town and had strange men latch on and follow me and I couldn’t tell them I wasn’t comfortable in their company because I really live my life by trying not to hurt other people's feelings. Even with family members who know I am autistic I have to be broken down crying and visibly shaking before they back off and stop over stepping my boundaries.
Warnings didn’t register
Even when people warned me about other people it is like my brain just didn’t register the warnings. I was severely isolated and over protected by my mum from the outside world and so when she told me not to do things I wanted so badly to do them just to see if I could or to prove her wrong because she trusted nobody and I didn’t want to live in a world where nobody could be trusted. “Stay away from that person” translated to “why?” in my brain and problems with perceptions about myself and not being able to read others due to problems with social cues made me the perfect target for some very evil and plain heartless people. I would often tell myself off if I found myself not trusting people. I told myself “if you keep not trusting people you will be alone forever” and I wanted so badly for that not to be my reality. I had little to no self-esteem and always saw people as being so much better than myself and I told myself I was lucky that they even bothered with someone like me.
Misunderstood
I also feel that because I grew up being misunderstood a lot as an undiagnosed autistic at the time. I sympathized so much with people who I thought were misunderstood. I knew I wasn’t being bad and that I just couldn’t control my emotions and that led to meltdowns. I was often so frustrated from being bullied and rejected in school and wanting so badly to communicate through words and not being able to. Doctors told my parents I never would speak and I know I would have been so angry at myself for making my parents sad and not meeting their expectations. I tended to assume everyone who was bad was just misunderstood. I watched lots of romantic movies whilst isolated in my bedroom and got my impressions of men solely from them and I was disappointed with reality until I met my soon to be Husband. I have never been the type to judge others and I am always judging myself and trying to be more NT actually. I never assumed I was better than anyone and it never occurred to me that there are people in existence who actually do.
Jumbled Emotions
The emotions I can most consistently name and recognize are anxiety and confusion.
Processing and Being in the Moment
I still can’t tell if someone is being nasty to me in person until a long time afterwards. Things never hit me until it is way too late and I never feel like I am in the moment. My brain does not catch up until way later. This leaves me feeling very vulnerable around people who I do not know and especially in groups. When someone speaks to me unexpectedly, they are speaking to my automated responses. The lights are on but no one is home and it is not that I am being ignorant. it is just impossible for me to process verbal information when I am so overwhelmed by all of the sensory stuff out in the world.
I get so angry at myself and wish I could know what it is like to actually partake in a unexpected conversation or a conversation with a stranger and be present. I only converse with someone when I know them well and get better at guessing what their responses towards me mean. I only speak to people if I feel that there is reason behind the words. I can’t tell if someone is joking with me or being sarcastic or not. Men that I dated often got angry at me for needing clarification in regards to what they meant or how they meant it and some even belittled and degraded me for it. They were expecting someone who was a mirror image of themselves and they got someone with a completely different view of the world and who was experiencing it in an entirely different way to how they were and I didn’t even know it then because I wasn’t diagnosed until 26.
Taking Things Literally and Not Seeing the Bigger Picture
I take things very literally and understand better through typed words because I can read and reread what has been said. This is what a lot of the predators who I met online used to their advantage. I tend to take suggestions as instructions and I often struggle to tell the difference and hints are lost on me. My older sister once had a conversation with my parents when we were in the car and she said she was worried about me because once someone said the word “love.” they would have control over me. At the time I remember hearing this I didn’t think much of it. People could always see the potential bad things miles before I could.
Linking Thoughts
If people link into my special interests, I bond very strongly with them because my brain works by linking things and I don’t even know why. Around an hour ago a survey man rang my telephone and ordinarily I wouldn’t do it. He called me DANIELLE but it sounded like Danielleeeee and my dad always use to refer to me that way. Because it was familiar to me and for no other reason, I finished his survey even in spite of the fact that I didn’t really want to.
Promises
I always mean everything I say and it never occurred to me that some people don’t or that people could have ulterior motives because I never have any. I am so honest and I don’t hide feelings. I was terrible at dating and couldn’t flirt because that all called for reading between the lines and that is something I just can’t do. If I promise someone something, I feel so strongly to sticking to my word that I won’t go back and often I hadn’t processed what people were asking me until I had already promised them to do it.
How Do You Feel? I Don’t know…
I can rarely really tell how I am feeling and so I can’t rely on my body signals to warn me of risk and often the people I met didn’t have these kinds of issues. I can see now that they planned their wrong doing long before I ever decided to meet them.
Badness Blocked Out by Hope
I was in a constant state of hope just to get me through the bad times and all I hoped for was to find someone who cared about me. It was all I was living for. I was living in a house with someone who threatened to kill me on a daily basis and who had chased me with a knife. He abused me sexually as a child and he made constantly sexually inappropriate comments towards me and he sometimes played sick sexual mind games with me. I was objectified and taught that men were always right and that when I tried to stand up for myself it would be met with glares, yelling or violence.
In the environment where it occurred other people in my family were terrified of that person and he monopolized the home. He was able to put me down in front of other family members and people just laughed along because they didn’t dare challenge him.
Many aspies go through so much trauma whether it is through bullying, constant rejection, abuse or even just the sheer terror of living in a world that makes no sense to them. Living in constant fear breeds a need for hope and we tend to be so open but, in my case, it was always to the wrong people. I never felt good enough for the good guys and I didn’t have the courage to interact with them when they made efforts with me. The bad guys were familiar and knew how to draw me in. Aspies are often so use to being treated badly it is very hard to reach out to the good people.
Truthfulness
I can’t be deceptive because I feel far too strongly about the importance of being honest. My dad would tell me not to confide in men I was meeting that I was disabled because they might take advantage. This felt like lying and pretending to be someone else and that is something I just could not do. I told them all pretty soon into contact everything and I was an open book. I wanted to be loved and accepted for who I was not to trick people into loving me and then go “oh by the way I am autistic”. I don’t mean to offend anyone for whom that might have been their reality it is just that I have a very strong belief in being honest and it is something I just couldn’t do. I hid nothing and the people I was meeting were hiding almost everything.
Awareness of Danger
I was never ever able to tell when I was in danger and I never picked up on the signs when I was being groomed. I stayed with people who were abusive because I was use to being treated badly. It is very much in my nature to stick with what I am use to. Everything new is terrifying for me and it's just easier for me to stick to what I know than go into meltdown in order to get to the new. Only few times in my life have I been able to get past this. My danger signals are completely out of order and I often feel afraid when I shouldn’t be and safe when I am definitely not.
One time I beat my crippling anxiety was in Tenerife with some people from my family and my Fiancé. My fiancé and I got on a boat and the night before it I couldn’t hardly sleep. Worst case scenarios were flooding my mind and I couldn’t switch off. I was close to cancelling the excursion but I am so glad I didn’t. When my fiancé and I first got in the boat I was so afraid. I asked for a life jacket immediately but the kind man reassured me that I could have one but that I really wasn’t going to need it. For the first five minutes I still felt like it was going to sink or something else terrible was going to happen. Then I started to notice how beautiful the ocean was and I felt a momentary freedom from all of my constantly troubled thoughts and it was pretty close to heaven. I was sad when we started going back towards the port. I finally understood how Christopher Cross could sing so beautifully about sailing.
Everything Hurts
Sometimes when I get overwhelmed by sounds of cars or other loud noises my mind shifts to intense fear mode. I feel like something bad is about to happen and sometimes even feel suicidal in a bid to escape whatever is overwhelming me because the emotions are not bearable. I only seem to feel things to the extremes and my emotions are far from balanced.
I have only mentioned a few of the reasons why I can’t give a perfect response to this. I always feel at the mercy of others who process faster than I do and who can see the bigger picture and that is a terrifying feeling to experience. My best advice would be to identify your vulnerabilities and that might mean talking to people if you have people you can trust. Make note of those vulnerabilities and start telling people you need more time before making any promises or arranging any meetings with them on the basis of friendships and relationships. It is such a minefield. I pushed away people who showed me warmth and clung onto the bad ones but I don’t do that anymore. Awareness is the only thing that can protect you and even then, in the moment someone who has better social cues and faster processing ALWAYS has the advantage.

1 comment:

  1. I know you don't think that that you didn't giver a perfect response, but as a neurotypical, this is exactly what I needed. It's definitely different all the processing. I have a boyfriend I have trouble understanding. I have tried to navigate him through the bad guys and people using him. But it's a cycle. And I have good intentions. Who knows what causes this and why this was your chosen journey. Thank you for sharing.

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