0 Blogging About Autism: Childhood Abuse and Those Who Cover It Up

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Childhood Abuse and Those Who Cover It Up




 About


I want this blog to address the overwhelming and life-altering impact of childhood abuse and I also want to discuss the impact of being asked or (in my case) forced to carry the burden of someone else's wrongdoing. I want to ask quite simply why? Why do those who abuse survivors gather the courage to confide in and those who are supposed to care for and protect them fail to do so?


Invalidation and Denial

I want to speak directly to the people out there who dismiss and invalidate the experiences of people who have suffered childhood abuse. Those who tell you just to move on whilst you are in the grips of the most despair-inducing and terrifying moments of your life. Those who ask this of you and treat it as if it is actually an option because the truth is it really is not an option for anyone who has suffered through it.




                                                                  

A Note To Survivors

If you are also an abuse survivor reading this. I want you to know that you are not alone and I want you to start the steps to recovery. Even if all you can manage is baby steps because that is truly enough. Just one step a day will give you results in your future. I promise you this and I am speaking from experience. I am reaching out to you and asking you to start taking the steps towards living again because if you are like I was you really need to.






If you don't move forward all that is left is to go further down and that is not the road you deserve to take. You didn't ask to be abused and you don't deserve to suffer anymore.


 Neglecting Yourself

You may be currently struggling to look after yourself or maybe not even feeling like showering or brushing your hair. When I first escaped my abuser I spent all day and night just staring at the walls and sitting in silence with nothing but the sound of my beautiful green Eclectus parrot and the sound of my own crying for company. 






Oscar


He was my only friend and I loved him so much. I focused in so hard on him and it showed because he could talk up a storm. Oscar I feel is the only thing that kept me sane at that point in my life until I got back together with my wonderful fiance. Unfortunately, when we got together my fiance and I were both severely depressed. He resented Oscar and I feel like he needed me to focus on him because he also has been through a lot of trauma in his childhood.


My OCD set in and intrusive thoughts that I might lose Oscar crept in. When I felt it was even the slightest bit cold I put him on my arm and sat in front of the electric fire with him to heat him up. I would constantly wake out of my sleep to go and check he was OK and I could never get the worry out of my head.


I became so worried about him that it was making me ill and so that combined with my Fiance complaining about him resulting in me re-homing him and it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. On the advert to re-home him, I made sure the people who took him understood how special he was and that they knew all about how to care for him and the types of food and attention he needed and I turned down quite a few people too. 







Friendship and Communication Problems


Throughout this blog, you will see me refer to best friends or friend but I must clarify that I have never had a "forever friend" except for my fiance who also has disabilities and understands me very well. Autism combined with my bad experiences that affected my trust has severely affected this part of life. It doesn't even occur to me to ask questions that friends ask each other. It is not that I don't care or wonder how people are because I do all of the time. I just really don't know how to express it at the time when it would be required and I am afraid of coming across the wrong way.

My sister and I have gotten much closer this last few years but she is nearly always the one who calls me. I sometimes remember to message her. On those days I do a little happy dance that on that day I managed to remember a social cue. Still, I don't talk to her the way her friend does. I can't offer people engaging or fun conversation and banter is like a different language to me. 


I show how much I love better than I say it. Unless I am typing and then I can express my feelings pretty well. Sometimes I can push myself to talk to a stranger and explain something but it is overwhelming and just so exhausting. I have to be passionate about what I am talking about to come across the way I want to and sometimes it still doesn't occur. If someone has hurt my feelings I can never hardly ever express myself at the time or even describe how I feel.


I can't speak just for the sake of speaking and phone calls to new people are a nightmare for me. I saw a video that said Autistic people use a different part of their brain for communication and that it is the part that should be used for tasks or something. I don't know but that theory makes sense to me because just doing daily day to day tasks leaves me with nothing left to give. I have lost friends through paranoia, lack of trust, fear and misinformation.


I once spoke to a group of people on an American website thinking they were my friends. They turned out to be devil worshippers and had sinister intentions towards me. At the end of our communication, I was absolutely terrified and fearing for my life.






Misinformation is a big one because I can't understand my own perceptions and because I see things so differently. I tend to go of the advice of others and others don't always give me the right advice as you can probably imagine.




Deer in the Headlights


I tried to watch TV but didn't catch much of it because I was too traumatised to focus on anything entertainment ways and I was still living like a startled rabbit. I tried to stand on my feet but my mind was broken and I couldn't even imagine a life that included feeling loved and safe. I wasn't motivated to decorate my home because I had no recollection of having had a happy safe home because of my abuser and my first flat reflected this. After the things he did, I had a complete mist befall upon everything before that and I still can't remember much before that point.




I was walking over bags of rubbish and flies were everywhere because I didn't have the energy mentally or physically to clean. The environment I was living in reflected what was going on inside my head. I felt hopeless, dirty, worthless amongst other things.



PlayStation Home


Before I moved in there I had made friends with a man on PlayStation Home and he encouraged me to leave the abusive situation. We both had rabbit avatars and something about PlayStation Home really helped me escape for a while whilst I was still living in the house with the abuser. 


That friend actually joked that when we went to the American PlayStation Home. I was acting like I was actually going on holiday but it actually felt that way to me. I had led a very isolated and sheltered life and it felt so new to me. He gave me a light in a very dark place and I looked forward to my conversation with him.





He was the person who gave me the strength to begin the mental battle to escape. Until he told me I could leave I didn't really believe I could.



Grooming, Sexual Abuse & Emotional Abuse (Trigger Warning)



Sometimes my abuser would begin a conversation about something such as history and he would always pick subjects he was really knowledgeable about that I knew nothing about. He would then use this to display his strengths and remind me how stupid I was. Or he would turn it towards degrading conversations in regards to women in general. I was too young then to even understand it and I could never even tell when he was starting to get angry let alone why. 

I only knew I was in trouble when it was extremely obvious. Such as when he was threatening to kill me and his eyeballs were bulging out of his head. He would tell me about girls he had sex with when he went to school when I was just 11 or 12. At that age, I was actually emotionally behind because of my disabilities so I had the mind of someone even younger. 


He would describe in detail scenarios of girls he apparently had sex with. He would then say he preferred me to them and he would mention my hair or my eyes. He would make inappropriate comments about my body parts and he played sick mind games. One of the most difficult to process was one in which he would ask me what part of my body he was staring at. He treated me like an object to hurt, degrade, exploit and generally ruin.


As I grew older he made comments when I wore a nightdress about how proud he was of me because "I was starting to look like a woman." He commented on my legs on various occasions too.  At this point in my life, I spent most of it inside that house and the two rooms I spent the most time in were my bedroom hiding and the living room which is where he would come to when the coast was clear. I can see it now like an outsider looking in so vividly but when it was all occurring there was nothing I could do and I couldn't escape.


When he wasn't asking me why he never sees me wearing skirts. He was criticising my appearance instead mocking every little part of me that makes me who I am. If I dressed nicely he would ask why I bothered. If I dressed casually he told me I was letting myself go. 


He sought to destroy me bit by bit and he did such a good job of it. It felt like psychological warfare but I wasn't equipped to fight back. I never felt safe in my own home and I still am a nervous wreck. I can't tell survivors reading this it has healed because for me I am still fighting to keep my head above water. Some days I can't see the silver lining in spite of how many good things are in my life and some people around me want to shame me for this. 



Head Above Water


Some people act as though being traumatised is a decision and they forget that it is not. I am battling restrictive, repetitive thoughts, rumination and inflexible thinking caused by my autism. Until a few weeks ago I had no pull and now I am starting to feel more pull to believe that I can keep going with everything and I credit that change to my wonderful CBT therapist.  


You would never know how disabled I am by just looking at me. The sad thing is people forget you're autistic every few minutes even when they know because you look normal to them and that is not their fault but it does hurt. 


Autism can be such a hard thing people don't see it and they only see you when you have your "coping face on." Every day I am tackling both the traumas and my Autism. Sometimes it feels like you are not allowed to be dealing with more than one thing at a time but my reality is that I am and I know so many more people will be in the same situation. 


Most days I just don't even know how I feel if someone asks. I don't have steady emotions and I often go into another world when stuck in rumination. Its pretty life stopping when your brain is stuck somewhere you don't want it to be. I can't always distract myself from it because I often don't realise when it begins. I am beginning to with the help of CBT catch on sometimes and that is progress. 


I have a few days sometimes that are more OK than others but it takes the littlest thing to end up knocked down for weeks. I have linking thoughts too and I don't know if its an effect of what I went through in that house. One thought links to another then another and it's a never-ending spiral. I can't just switch it off and come out of it and I am fighting harder than I ever had to not break down when triggers are presented to me. My mother is the main trigger because she can't seem to accept that I don't want to be around the person who put me through hell but I guess I still love her. 






Even someone without autism would struggle to cope with this sort of betrayal by a so-called family member. I am damaged by his actions and irreparably so. That is not negative thinking or dwelling on the past it just is what it is. 



Observation


I have heard more and more of the word "snowflake" being used out in the world. It has never been used towards me and frankly, I wouldn't care if it was but I find it worrying. There isn't much anyone could say to hurt me because my own mother rips me to shreds on a weekly basis with her insensitive nature. We live in a world where people are called snowflakes when they are sensitive and yet people wonder why suicides occur. Why are people shamed for feeling by those who are supposed to care? Why is it becoming OK to mock someone for being sensitive? Why is it acceptable to expect someone who is drowning in pain to just suck it up and paint on a fake smile? 


When I see strangers I smile at them on even my worst day hoping to perhaps brighten theirs. Sometimes I smile too much or show an expression like fear without even realising that is what is being perceived by the other person. I never know if my emotion and face match and I get the feeling it often doesn't based on so many miscommunications. Someone once asked me if I was afraid of him and I really didn't know I was putting out that vibe. I did once ask someone who was clearly in distress if they were OK out in the outer world and that person looked me square in the eye and said: "fuck off." It took me a lot of nerve to even ask that person if they were OK. I am so shy and afraid of people but I care and that hasn't changed based on one interaction. 


Perhaps reactions like that have happened to those who throw around words like snowflake. Perhaps their hearts have become hardened. Who Knows? I don't think its an excuse to be uncaring though because if no one cares then what sort of world are we left with? I wonder if people who have jumped on the bandwagon with that particular word even ponder what the opposite of snowflake is. I think in this world a lot of people say things that are socially popular before even wondering about whether its kind or not. 


If anyone confided in me that they were struggling to cope with something that had occurred to them I wouldn't expect them to just get on with it. I have met some lovely people recently who have given me faith in the good in the world and I won't forget to mention that.





When you have been around someone who abuses you in every way imaginable daily it has a lasting impact. I am trying to get to a point where I can live with it without being shaky, always on edge and fearing the worst at all times. I want the clouds that loom over any brief glimpses of happiness to disappear and to feel a day without anxiety. 
I feel that if I keep talking and if I can help others that at least something positive could come from so much negative. 



Rage

My abuser would wait until my parents were out and then make his way downstairs. He would sit with a smile on his face and brush his hand across his face in contemplation. I now understand this was him planning his ways to scare or abuse me and he enjoyed it very much. I remember him banging my head off a car door and chasing me with a knife. He used the knife scenario to gain himself sympathy when my parents came home. They turned the key in the door just before he got to the other end to me. He ran downstairs and stabbed himself in the arm.


Of course, my parents saw blood all over the floor and were worried about him. That was his plan though deflection from what he had just attempted to do to me. No one addressed how terrifying that was for me. I said I needed therapy for all of the abuse and I was never allowed to get it because I was begged not to tell on the abuser. Sometimes he would run downstairs throwing things at me and in one instance my parents tried to stop him but they couldn't.


He kicked me through them and he also put others in that home through violence too.  I know that he also stamped on someone in that homes head.


His angry face is burned on my brain as much as the wide-eyed glare when he was ready to attack or seeing red. Sometimes glares and Stares are just as bad as actual violence because they are the precursor to it. They symbolise that moment of unpredictability and terror.







Broken Hearted

How could I care for myself and live alone? I was still picking up thousands of shattered pieces of a broken heart. I grew up with very protective parents but unfortunately, they were blindsided when it came to protecting me from him.  My parents (mainly my mum) didn't allow me any independence and I was not taught how to stand on my own two feet.





I was not taught survival skills for the world because no one ever expected that I ever could or would be independent.




Doubt


How could I believe in my ability to look after myself? So many of those around me had told me I couldn't do these things and doubted how I would cope because of my disabilities.


I do struggle to cope quite a bit and I feel no shame in admitting that. I was too traumatised to think straight and I had zero belief in myself because my abuser had left me a nervous wreck. 


All I could do was cry and wonder why me? I couldn't take comfort by saying at least I had escaped because in my mind I was still there and honestly sometimes I still am but having someone who loves me helps because I am no longer alone with only the invalidation of people who wish to protect him and who chose his happiness over mine.





I was stuck inside my own head and this was exacerbated by Autism causing restrictive repetitive thoughts and rumination. 



Betrayal


My suffering was intensified because certain people around me made me feel like I had done something horrible by wanting to escape. Everything I tried to do to feel safe resulted in more blame coming my way. The only aim was to keep the family together and the abuser's reputation intact and I couldn't suffer anymore to keep them happy. To this day those people still invalidate my abuse and try to make excuses for the Abuser but denial is a very strong thing and they don't want to believe someone in their family could be capable of something so horrible. I do hate that certain people lied about the events and tried to make less of it though. 






I hate that they kept it from other family members and tried to twist and control how others saw the events and they never told the truth of what really happened. That is bad for my mental health and has caused me no end of suffering.




Living like a Zombie




At that point in my life, I still didn't know I had Autism and I truly had absolutely no one. My hair grew the longest it had ever been because I wasn't straightening it or applying heat to it or even dying it and as someone who once liked to wear makeup and straighten my hair by this point I had just stopped. Straightening is something I never can do as well as I would like to. My sister makes it look so easy but when I do it I just can't do it to the same standard. 

I still try and then put my hair up most times because I can't manage this task due to difficulties caused by autism and all daily tasks take me way too long to complete and I am trying to prioritise what is more important than the other. I have stopped attempting to straighten my hair every day to wear it down and I have stopped wearing fake tan and now even foundation too. It was really hard to get to that point because these things I was taught were essential to fitting in and being liked.







I contemplated suicide and even sat with the tablets in my hand ready to do it. This happened more than once and every time the hope that I would one day find love kept on changing my mind.



Self Destruct and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms




Perhaps you are overeating yourself into an early grave? I certainly was or are you hardly eating at all? If either of these two unhealthy ways of coping with trauma is something you can relate to I am asking you to stop. I want to tell you that you can because I have and you can too. At my heaviest, I was over 19 stone in weight. 

I now weigh 9 stone 2 and I have been maintaining my weight a long time now. 





You just have to allow some time to think about your happiness. Then start writing down goals and taking action step by step you will get there.  Keep your goals in your eyesight at all times.


Even if it means writing them into reminders that pop up on your phone daily. Keep track of your progress and never forget where you want to be and believe you can get there because it will happen once you start. Someone gave me wonderful inspiration when she said: "you didn't gain it overnight and you won't lose it overnight either."



The Long Road to Self Care




It is a long road but it is very worth it. I was able to achieve my weight loss and I credit a wonderful OT who supported me after diagnosis with helping me to do this too. She helped me by explaining that my brain works differently and that I might need visual cues to process information.



This OT and the person who diagnosed me and the Social worker who supported me and the Person who supports me now with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are all wonderful and they have given me back so much hope for the good in the world.



Self Sabotage and Autism



I have always pushed away niceness because being treated terribly has been more familiar to me. This has lost me many people who I did actually care about. Autism impairs my ability to understand other peoples communication towards me and leads to slower processing times. Communication through spoken words exhausts me like nothing else. 




Most of the time I am just using a script of socially acceptable words and phrases that are stored in my head and throwing them out there randomly hoping they fit the expectations of the person speaking to me.



Hiding the Autism




I am always just trying not to alarm them and draw attention to the fact that I am Autistic. This usually results in me getting so overwhelmed because I am keeping another massive secret and it all spills out and then people make me feel invalidated by saying "I don't look Autistic." or that "I do not give any hints of autism" There is a reason for that because when I did show my vulnerabilities I was eaten alive for it. 

It might not be their intention to invalidate but it hurts because I suffer from my Autism and I was left without a diagnosis for 26 years. I was left to blame myself for problems that were being caused by my disability that I didn't even know I had. 






Out in the big wide world, I really like people and yet I suffer to be around them because I always end up confused and reminded of how differently my brain works. This makes me feel extremely lonely and sometimes entirely like giving up.



Escaping through Drug and Alcohol Addiction




I want to say if you are using alcohol or drugs to cope they won't help they are just helping you to escape but you can't escape this you need to face it. I have never gone down that route but I understand why some people might.




It is understandable but it is not the path to your happiness. 



Your Future




It is terrifying to think of the future when you have spent a long time thinking that you wouldn't have one. I spent the time between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Disclosure occurred thinking I wasn't going to live long enough to have a future. My abuser often told me he would kill me and had threatened me to keep quiet. I stopped planning for my future from the moment the abuse occurred and it wasn't a conscious decision.




I just couldn't see a happier time or any possibilities. I didn't think I would live long enough to have a future.


                                                                  Cling to Hope


If you are somewhere between having no will to live but perhaps clinging to the hope of something that you want in life. Keep clinging to that hope and make it your focus because you can achieve it. In my case, it was the idea of real love that kept me going.  I watched romantic movies and listened to 80s love songs on repeat. 


I dreamed of the day when someone actually cared about me and hoped it could be a reality although in my mind it never really felt possible. 





This was what kept me alive when I felt like I wanted to die. Abusive men, unfortunately, exploited this and left me with further traumas and I went through rape and other sexual violence.



Let Love Find You




I would caution actively seeking a soulmate if you have just escaped an abusive situation. It makes so much sense to want to find someone who cares after you have been hurt so much. Especially if that hope is all that you are clinging to but lots of people will use it to reel you in. You start to feel like its never going to happen and you can get impatient.

Impatience can lead to settling for much less than you deserve. I wish I had just kept faith that the right person would come along because I wouldn't have been so vulnerable to the bad ones and trying to make people love me. Emotionally I gave everything to people and got nothing in return but abuse lies and hurt.


Please be careful who you trust. Don't close yourself down from people but tell those you meet you need time and if they won't give you it that should say everything about whether they deserve to be in your life or not. 


It is true that you should not wear your heart on your sleeve and don't sign up to dating sites or even friendship sites if your trauma is still raw. Too many will try to charm you or pretend to be everything that you want and right now you will be very vulnerable to falling for it.





I know you want a happy ending but wait because I promise you the right person will come to you and not the other way around.

                       
                                                                It Is Not Your Shame

I write this as someone who has already lost so much of her life to the misery of trying to keep everyone else happy at the cost of her own happiness. It is too high of a price to pay for something that isn't even your fault. How can someone care about you and ask you to do that? Perhaps they are afraid of the consequences but both people in that equation are often suffering due to the silence. 






Set boundaries and distance from those who insist you keep abuse secret at the cost of your own mental health.



It is not your fault




You may have been made to feel this way repeatedly by your abuser. I certainly was but you are not to blame you are not wrong. My abuser never missed a chance to call me a freak, a devil or bad. Don't let your abuser use you as a way to project their wrongdoing and just sheer inner badness onto someone else. Abusers have honed their manipulation skills so well and over a long period of time.

The person who abused me had the power to mock and humiliate me in front of everyone who ever visited our home and the people around just laughed along with it.





My parents walked on eggshells around him and blamed me on being too sensitive because they were afraid to upset him and unleash his fury. This meant he was never held accountable for his sick behaviour and he reached a level of invincibility within our home.

                                                          
When You Are Asked to Protect the Person Who Destroyed Your Life.



Somehow a lot of abuse victims find themselves in this position and I was one of them. I was told not to ruin my abuser's reputation. I have been asked to suffer so that he doesn't have to and now I just can't anymore. I  threatened to kill myself whilst I lived under the same roof as him but I did it in absolute despair and perhaps madness too. I wanted so desperately to see if anyone cared and sadly in that most terrifying moment I saw it so crystal clear that no one did.

The response to my cry for help was to bring more people in my family along to silence me. When I said I wanted the right thing to be done. Someone in my family slapped me before screaming that "it was no big deal" in my face. What followed was threats of being thrown in a mental institution. At this point, I wasn't a loved family member. I was just someone who needed to be silenced. 


As an Autistic person, I can relate strongly to music and there is a music video from the 80s that kind of resembles how I felt at this point and it brings up a lot of emotion for me when I see it. The song is called Sara and is by the amazing band Starship. It stirs the emotions that remind me of my childhood. 


For me, the Music Video reminds me of the helplessness I felt and the absolute heartbreak of feeling all alone in spite of coming from a large family. For me, it reminds me of how bad things can come like tornadoes.





In a split second, something can happen and turn your world entirely upside down. My abuser was the Tornado in my life and he is still affecting it in many different ways 30 years later. 



Escaped but Not Quite




Even though I  found the strength to escape and find my own safe place. The effects of what he did to me still haunt me and my safe place reflected my broken self. I was made me feel like I was the one in the wrong. When I escaped there was still a battle to be fought. A battle that revolved around my mother wanting to pretend like nothing had changed. 

After I escaped my parents rarely visited me. Even my mother in fact and she was the person most angry at me. I was at my wit's end whilst being forced to live with an abuser but my mother would have preferred me to be suffering than free.` Why? Because she had an image to uphold. Perhaps it was because she was afraid of the consequences of telling but who knows? 


After I escaped I went back because I have other siblings who I love and who were still stuck there and still are now. One of them is also Autistic like me. I never see him now because he never leaves his bedroom. That is soul-destroying for me because I love him very much. I love all of my family very much and my abuser's actions have ruined my closeness to them.


I don't trust anyone at all except very few people but hardly any of them are actually in my family. When I needed my family most they weren't there and I have since heard just how many were in on the decision to keep things quiet. It just causes me further devastation. I suffered more than they could ever know because of their silence. I have so much love but I can't give it to the wrong people because my heart can't take it.






When your Only Option is the One That is Bad for your Mental Health




I needed support and going there was my only option because I didn't have anybody else. I tried to reassure myself that at least I could leave at any point. My mum was always in the background pulling strings and trying to fix her broken family and in severe denial. She was trying to make me and the abuser get along. That was never going to end well. 

He took some of what should have been the happiest years of my life and filled them with nothing but darkness. The last part of my childhood and the rest of my young adult years were forever ruined by him. He ripped away any sense of stability in my life and what was already not the most stable ground under my feet became comparable to constant molten lava or an unending earthquake. 







For Me, There is No Greater Hell Than Sibling Abuse 




I have been Bullied by the majority of people in nearly every school I attended and I had to move schools a lot. I have been hit by strangers, stared at, glared at, isolated from people who were friends by bullies. I lost those friends because I believed the bullies.




I have stared at myself in School bathroom mirrors crying and wondering who the person looking back at me even was. I tried to encourage the person looking back at me and reassure her that everything would be OK but I  never was able to because I knew it wasn't going to be OK and I couldn't lie to myself. 




I came into contact with many more predators online and I believe that occurred because childhood abuse and lack of diagnosis made me much more vulnerable to them. Also because I was desperately seeking someone who cared about me and to escape the abusive home where it felt like no one did.




Pretending everything is OK 




I was terrified every moment that I was in my abuser's presence. I have learned to mask things extremely well being an under the radar autistic all those years. I was sickened by the reaction of some of those around me. They acted like I was in the wrong and guilt-tripped me at every opportunity. My mum seemed to want me to fail and end up back there permanently but after I fought so hard to get out that was not an option. 

The last time I saw the abuser he said: "I was always too sensitive." I confronted him whilst my fiance and dad were there and my sister and mother held my hand. I was shaking and crying at the kitchen table. By this point, there was a care plan put in place by my social worker who was assigned to me after my autism Diagnosis which stated my partner was never to leave me alone with him.


This was quite a few years later and I guess mum had thought that if she told me I was safe (because they knew what happened and were aware) that would mean I could be in that environment but it never helped. How could it? They knew what he did whilst I lived there and never did anything about it.


I felt like I was going insane at this point in my life and she would phone me and guilt trip me if I missed even one day visiting her and yet she never came to visit me. Because my mum is my appointee I never felt like I could completely break away even though I had left.


I looked him in the eye and  said that "I was never too sensitive and that he had caused me so much suffering and that he had revelled in doing so." I felt so afraid with each word and there was so much more I wanted to say.


People like this never change and it is not your job to help them. If you have family members saying "but they are family," I want you to remember that you were not put here to sacrifice your happiness for people who treat you like crap.



Reputation

Reputation was for some people in my family more important and social acceptance was more important than my life and my feelings. When I had social media I saw family members share posts on social media about how abusers should be punished and even dead but when it happened to me their Niece, Daughter, Granddaughter it might as well not have done. It had to be ignored and somehow the abuser was treated with more care and sensitivity than I was. It seems there is a culture of "not my family member" and family sticking by each other throughout everything but when cruelty and suffering is the cost of that where does their hearts go?

Instead, I have heard every excuse imaginable including that his friend brought porn into the home, he wasn't allowed to mix with others, he felt ugly and didn't love himself or that I was too sensitive. Also, I heard things like your autism makes you see things differently to how they really happen. 


So much invalidation is hard to live with I can't even begin to tell you how that wears you down. 

There is no way to see grooming and child molestation in the wrong way.  Some people in my family gaslighted me  and tried to make me question how serious it was. Of course only admitting it years later but I am disgusted they treated me in such a unfair way. What happened was criminal and they tried to make me feel like I was overreacting. The weak excuse my mum gave were just not enough. The repercussions of their irresponsible behaviour have effected my life massively.

                                               Parentless but Loved

 I am updating this part of the blog to say they are no longer in my life. This was not the outcome I wanted but it was the right decision for my mental health and to put myself first because when it comes to what I endured they never did. I am now parentless they live but they are not here. My world has crashed yet again but the planet keeps spinning for them as it did whilst my mental health suffered for years and my mother aided it by denying me help. I am loved and I love my Husband so very much and I adore his family. I am not alone and I am loved just not by those who I thought did or should love me. I also love my Sister but her choice to remain silent makes it hard to fully trust. The behaviour of hiding what happened is very damaging to me.

This could have been avoided they act as though it couldn't have but it could have. Leading up to this my mother continued to overstep my boundaries with no concern as to how many bits she left me in each time. When my mother approached me in Tesco's and bought the abuser up in conversation. I told her I didn't want to hear about him and she was still set on trying to fix things for his benefit not mine. I asked her why and she said "I have to." 

Or when she spoke about him on  mine and my husbands wedding day as though he wasn't the person who put me through living hell. I won over my emotions on that day though because I was getting ready for the best day of my life and she didn't ruin it. I didn't break down or become the broken emotionally unstable daughter she wanted me to be. She also tried to intimidate or manipulate me the day before the wedding similar to how she did the day she slapped me. This time trying to leverage that I had a happy moment in my life so now I had to drop my need for closure and justice and to know he cant do that to anyone else. 

Usually when I lived there each time I tried to get ready even to just go to the shops I would break down crying. She would get angry and shout or beep the horn or slam the door whilst ranting about how long it would take me to get ready. That was humiliating and only further worsened my anxiety and the sensory overload I didn't know I was dealing with then. 

Something like putting on makeup or doing my hair is quite time consuming and complex for me. I would zoom in so much to every little detail that I couldn't stop until I felt it was good enough. Isolated in my room for so long makeup became my focus somehow. 

Even if I was depressed and sick I could fake looking like I wasn't.  I could try and hide the tears and despair and take part in a ritual that most girls my age did that I was told was essential to fitting in or being liked. As she cut people out of my life and I became more and more lonely my appearance became an obsession. Not in a egotistic way though but more because I had gotten the message via different  family members that appearance was all that mattered. 

I also spent so much time on makeup as a means of trying to preserve what little was left of myself because I was losing her as the days drifted by. Eventually that didn't work and I would break down crying and have to start all over again. This followed me after I escaped I would break down crying and just give up through sheer exhaustion and overwhelm. I guess in part this shows I had internalised their brain washing me to feel like I had to act like everything was ok and put on a happy face.  I was so busy trying to build a less broken version of myself to make others happy  that I lost the real one underneath it all.

Crying feels like failure sometimes because I tried so hard to be strong around them but they made it impossible. I guess that's why I have this nagging feeling I have to shower after I cry. It feels like I have done something wrong and I am washing it away & starting over.

I was a traumatised person trying to put together the shattered pieces each time I stood in front of the mirror.  The abuser had broken me into so many pieces I couldn't put myself back together. I could no longer fake being ok or manage to look  after myself. Getting ready broke me down because I didn't have an identity. I was the rabbit in the lions den living with more than one person with their  own identity issues and they devoured me.  


Confidence Shattered



At a point in my life that I felt like I was starting to build just a sliver of confidence. I was finally in a School with other people like me. Even though I was being sexually harassed by a lot of the boys in that School. Some of the people who attended this school were invisibly disabled like me and I think this helped me enormously with not feeling so alone. I didn't have my diagnosis then but my parents had thought that autism was what was wrong with me. Medical professionals had said there were 8 or 9 different things wrong to my parents when I was a child. 

Here in front of me were disabled children who did not appear disabled. I would like to highlight that I don't mean this in an offensive or disrespectful way and I actually am repulsed to know that there are people who are not very nice to people who are disabled regardless to how visible or invisible their disability is because everyone should be treated with respect. I say it because many people expect disability to have a certain identifying feature and the truth is many don't. Not every person who is Autistic is going to have obvious stims or give off hints. I have learnt to hide mine for safety and to be left alone.


Before I was in schools with people who had different wiring to their brains than I do. Normal wiring is how I would describe it mine is different than the majority and that is the case with autism. The neurotypicals sure let me know that I wasn't one of them. With invisible illness it can literally drive you insane and mine was impacting my life severely yet I couldn't see it and neither could others. Perhaps they just seen someone drowning in confusion over things that came easily to them. Someone who never quite got it right in regards to what makes people popular. Essentially they saw different and bullied me for it. After I went to a school for disabled children and felt more at home than ever for a while. 



I accessed my medical files recently because I wanted to see it all. I grew up being told I had all of these different illnesses but having no name for them. The Doctors said they thought putting me in a school for physically disabled people would affect my confidence. They didn't put me into a school for disabled children until it was too late. I am so angry about this because I have suffered for their assumptions. 


In the disabled school, I remember one of the teachers warning us all that if we thought we had already been discriminated against that it would be significantly worse in the world that comes after school. She actively discouraged us from entering it. I think she was trying to be  protective and I really liked that teacher.  I can't see how this is the right thing though and if it is the right thing then I guess disabled people are screwed.



Echoes Of The Past

Sometimes the not so nice boys would discuss me in a sexual manner when the teacher left the room. This was difficult for me and I stopped going altogether towards the end. The nicer boys I referred to warned me about the boy that would sit and stare at me in class and they indicated that he was dangerous. I ended up going with my first boyfriend at this School. Not surprisingly he was not the nicest of the male species. He told people he had sex with me when we had never even met outside of School and the most we had ever done was kiss. 

I only knew when people on my bus told me that he had been spreading those rumours. He put me down once we split up every time he saw me and called me names. The same guy contacted me online after I left school pretending to be his own cousin to try and get a date.




I didn't Know Why




I remember the vice-principal asking why a nice girl like me was with someone like that. I couldn't answer her but now I can see that people like him had easier access to me because his attitude matched the disrespect I had become accustomed to. I never felt good enough for the nice guys and didn't know how to enter their world. My brother had spent his life telling me I was a freak, bad, stupid, retarded etc

It was just nice to be liked for any reason I guess. I did have one friend at the time but  I struggled so much with keeping that friendship because I took a lot of the things she said to me in the wrong way. Some of the teachers in this School were the kindest and most caring people I had ever met. I really liked the classroom assistant that would accompany us when we went to tech.



Assumptions Can Ruin Lives




I could pass as normal it didn't matter that those inner issues were causing me inner turmoil and destroying my abilities to form relationships. It didn't matter that I was so overwhelmed by the world I was having severe meltdowns and this was leading to parental anxiety which in turn made me feel horrible. Undiagnosed autism has affected my education and my entire life. I have been so used to hiding the things I did to calm down. It would actually look odd if I started making use of those coping mechanisms now and all I ever want is to just blend in. 

When I wear sunglasses I feel like I am blocking out the sensory attack on my senses. It would look odd if I started wearing them regularly though because it doesn't get sunny much here. It is not like people have seen me making use of those coping mechanisms. People who bullied me sometimes outright asked: "what is wrong with you?" I didn't even know so I had no response and they probably didn't deserve one anyway.
                                           Strongly and Easily Overwhelmed 

When I am overwhelmed by the sound of traffic or even just thoughts my mind automatically goes to wanting to die. I can't regulate my emotions as they are always extremes.



Autism




Autism is something I suffer with and for everyone who would tell someone their autism must be mild, I say this. If you don't have it don't judge it. As a matter of fact, if you do have it don't judge it either. I am not judging others autism against my own because why on earth would I? We are all affected differently and all in different places on the spectrum. 

Autism is an umbrella term and it basically means a lot of things are affecting that person's life all at once. If you don't believe in Social disabilities imagine never being able to make friends. At this point in my life, I don't have any except my fiancĂ©, my sister and people in my fiancĂ©s family. In life, I cannot articulate my thoughts the way I can typing here and I can't process things fast enough to say what I really feel in real-time. 


Doctors said I would never walk or talk when I was a child and I do both now but not without difficulty. I get pains when walking but I persevere as much as I can in spite of them. Sometimes I am on the verge of crying from the pain but I hide it very well. I was often put down and called lazy for my exhaustion and tiredness through primary school & so I learned to hide it.



I saw someone saying they had an earlier diagnosis and their parents are being really hard on them and telling them to basically suck it up. They are acting like the person is overreacting about their struggles. That is so cruel and I don't feel that my delayed diagnosis is any more important than an early one in terms of comparison to others. Yes, I feel it might have helped me as an individual but stop comparing us all.



Excuses Allow Evil to Gain More Power




There were people within my family blaming the abuse I suffered on the abusers head injury and this further caused suffering for me. It also falls flat because years later other family members have said he tried to do things to them too before his head injury. I won't disclose their identity because it is their choice whether they tell or not. He threatened someone in my family throughout their childhood that he would burn the house down and the person I am referring to had nightmares that I would run back in for my teddy or a pet. He made sexual advances towards the person in question but the difference is that they were able to stand their ground. After this, he threatened that he would move on to me when that person left and he did.

The things my abuser did were not impulsive and uncontrollable he always waited until I was alone. He was calculated, controlling and opportunistic. He thought about what he did and he thought about the consequences because he warned me to keep quiet. He knew he was wrong but when he did those things I didn't know what he was doing to me.


I knew it felt wrong but I didn't know why it was wrong. I thought he was being nice to me and I had actually confided in him as someone I trusted that I was being bullied in school and nobody liked me. I was in distress and he decided he was going to show me how to masturbate with an instructional porn video. He then got me to lift my nightdress up and stared at and fondled my breasts. He made comments about them and said he wanted to kiss me. 


He kissed me the way two adults in a relationship do. He then threatened me to keep quiet or else something very bad would happen. I remember him asking did I want to see his private parts but I can't remember much after this all occurred. All that sticks in my head is the moment quite a while later when I got the nerve to tell on him. He was out with my dad and brother and my mum and I had just had Chinese food at home. I was terrified to tell but also terrified not to tell. I figured his threat towards me would be the same no matter what I did. He had already threatened to kill me and if I did he might but if I didn't further sexual abuse could. 


When I told my mother she brought the abuser out for a drive and apparently packed his bags and beat him up. She dealt with it in her way and her way was the way that she and unfortunately other family members too had decided was the appropriate way. Their way was to respond to my abuse was with more and that can't be the right answer either. The suffering this decision caused me is unimaginable and I think anyone who reads this could easily predict that decision only made things much worse for me. 


I grew up with my mum offering me 50p to tell on my other siblings if they were bad. Suddenly one of them had done something beyond bad and I was being told to keep quiet about it. It made absolutely no sense to me at all. I need to be able to make sense of things or I can't let them go. I have been tortured by keeping this secret.



Blame



This is not anyone's fault except the abusers and whilst how people reacted to it was very damaging and still impacts me greatly.

 


                                Pass The Parcel - Pass The Shame



This world of stress and pain was passed onto me I did not want it and I can't accept it anymore. It was similar to a game of pass the parcel but it was pass the shame.  I am not the sort of person who wishes an eye for an eye. Being Autistic I am extremely sensitive and I always try to prevent people from being hurt because I know through countless experiences with bullies and abusers just how bad it feels. I truly believe that if someone hurts you and you hurt them that would make you just as bad. I write this not to hurt my family or even my abuser. 

I write it hoping to wake up one day feeling free of the heartache and pain that is with me every day of my life. 





Love Of My Lifeđź’“


It was not long after the man came out to talk me out of suicide that I met up with my FiancĂ© again and for the first time I had someone who really did love me as much as I love him. I tried so hard to give him a clean slate and not let my past affect him. My FiancĂ© and I had met as teenagers and I felt so safe and comfortable with him and I have never felt that way with anyone. I was instantly at ease with him and we could talk without trying. He was so funny and light-hearted and kind. 


My Mother heard things about him that were not true and told me I was never to see him again. At the time I blurted out that I loved him before I even really had thought it over. When we split up life just took us in different directions. He was hanging around with people who wanted him to be their permanent drinking buddy and who walked all over him. One night at a house party he was crying on the floor of his parents home whilst his so-called friends run riot and ruined the house. 


They even put a hole in the wall. This was my first house party and I hated it. I could see my Fiancé was not like those he was hanging about with. His friends were sleazy and one even tried to come onto me whilst he was in the kitchen. I felt very uncomfortable and really could not wait to leave. I told my Fiancé that I was leaving because around these people the sweet and caring guy I know disappeared. He was never abusive or nasty he was just trying to find his place in the world. My fiancé says I left him at this point and I thought he left me. There was confusion and miscommunication here I suppose but that is not important now.


My FiancĂ© said he was too immature back then but even then he treated me so differently. He was a gentleman and he did little things I had not observed with others like kissing me on the forehead. He never ever pressured me for sex and for the first time it was actually me who really had a desire to do it. This was new to me.




Feeling Like You Do Not Matter

I want you to stop and think about your mental health because in all honesty mine is still in tatters but I want it to get better. I want to be happy and I can't be whilst I carry all of this on my shoulders. I am setting it down today because it is not my burden to carry and it is crippling me. I hope that in setting it down it might give others permission to set theirs down too. If those who know about the secret read this and the readers of this blog who are personally affected by these types of things read it. I hope you find the courage to set down secrets and shame that are not yours to carry. 


This secret has been ripping through my family for years and destroying us all in different ways. From the moment it happened things got progressively darker and isolated and light just seems to have got further and further away as each day passed. It affected us all differently. We need a world where people don't feel like the only safe way to deal with abuse is to hide it. We need a world in which people are more concerned with doing the right thing than doing the socially acceptable one. 


You cannot bury trauma and if you try to it plays out in an unstoppable trail of destruction throughout your life. It crushes your self-esteem and it destroys your ability to trust. It leaves you feeling absolutely worthless and more alone than words could ever describe. I already feel very alone because I am Autistic and  I have spent my life trying to protect the people who didn't protect me. I have been on the verge of crying daily but I put on a happy face around people and learned to fake being OK.


I have reoccurring nightmares about being attacked and hunted down by predators and that reflects my experiences in the past. Some days I just dream of daily life such as being at the grocery store and then all of a sudden I am folded on my knees outside of the store with my head in my hands crying hysterically but I feel this particular dream occurs due to the effects my autism has on me in overwhelming environments.


I feel I have suffered to a similar extent to how a criminal locked in an isolation cell would. Yet I did nothing wrong. My abuser was allowed to convince me I was bad and that there was something inherently wrong with me and sadly for a long time I started to believe it. Alone in my bedroom, I fought so many battles inside my head with absolutely no one to turn to.



                                                              Betrayal 

Betrayal makes you feel like everyone is out to get you. I had one person who I trusted quite a lot and it was rare for me to do so at the point in my life in which I knew him. He told me that "I thought everybody hated me," and that it was actually the opposite but he was right and I couldn't see it. Trauma blocks your ability to see who is on your side and it destroys your trust so much so that you doubt every action or word that is coming towards you.  


You push people away because if you don't know how it feels to be loved or treated with respect how can you possibly determine who your friends or trustworthy people really are?



                                         
Trust Issues


My trust issues were exacerbated by the fact that I didn't get my diagnosis until I was at a metaphoric cliff edge in my life. My diagnosis didn't come until the point when I didn't care if I was alive or dead. My troubles with social cues I always blamed on my self and this led to intense self-hatred.


How did I keep upsetting people when I was just asking them what they meant? Why were people always so angry at me and what have I done wrong? Those questions circled in my head day in day out.




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