By now, people who read this journal will know that like many autistic thirty-somethings, I was abused in a few ways as a child and adolescent. In previous entries, I have made references to physical abuse and psychosexual abuse. So that we are all on the same page with this, I will offer educated-guess definitions of both phrases. The latter being something that people do not hear often, I will spend a little more time on that.
Physical abuse is, in a nutshell, the use of violence against a person who is unable to fight back effectively. And before you start building an idea in your head that this only applies to women and children, men can be physically abused, too. There is always a psychological component to physical abuse. A man who is constantly being punched or scratched by his wife or mother, for example, is going to feel a deep shame of being in this situation, and an unwillingness to fight back for fear of being branded an abuser. Given the extremely short memory that current protection systems have in regards as to how incidents and fights have started, this is understandable. Even if one somehow manages to convince the authorities that the perpetrator of previous abuse is in fact a perpetrator, this poses the challenge of convincing others. And when people in the corner of the abuser are constantly falsely accusing you of abuse, it feels a lot like being abused.
Psychosexual abuse is a very difficult thing to define, especially since there is no real formal definition of it as understood by medical or social services as yet. The conditions under which it occurs or can occur are also fairly nebulous. Given that no two autistic children are alike, it is important to explain something here in order for my example to make sense. I am an extremely visual person. My vision itself, poor as it is getting from certain distances, can pick out individual dots in a person’s skin from a distance of six feet. And my brain like this, because when people describe things in text or say things that I have a reference point for, I can see them as if they are playing on a projection screen right in front of me. So when a certain relative I will not specify here asks everyone at the breakfast table of all places in turn if they shave their fannies, you had better believe that it will put such unpleasant images in my head that I truly believe no male who is twelve years old and already reeling under years of abuse should have to put up with this. And given the appalled reactions of some professional persons I have shared this uncomfortable “secret” with (I kept it as such for more than twenty years, which is more than long enough), I believe I have quite a lot of concurrence.
Although defining psychosexual abuse is difficult, describing its effects upon this former boy is very easy in one sense. I have enough experience of it that I can describe it in words very easily. It is just the emotional fallout that I fear.
For one thing, being touched in almost any shape or form by an uninvited stranger is a very uncomfortable experience. This is why in contrast to Queensland, old ladies living in civilised places like Parramatta or Box Hill do not play touchy-feely with random strangers as they attempt to access public transport. They have no way of knowing when the person they are putting their hands on is comparably disturbed on this level as I am, and has far less qualms about simply turning around and knocking their fukking head off. Yes, Queenslanders, you live in a state where the act of molestation of strangers is tolerated far too much, and your pose of smug superiority is offensive as a result. It is called personal space for a good fukking reason.
Even if you discount this problem, and you do so at your own peril, being touched physically by medical professionals or beauticians takes a lot of psychological self-coaching. The mere sensation of pressure against the skin can trigger such a self-defensive reaction that one has to suck in even more breath when a suspicious-looking mole is being excised. And whilst I personally find having hair ripped out of parts of my body a very satisfying experience (as in I have yanked some out with my bare hands and enjoyed seeing the resulting blood spurts), I have to talk a hell of a lot with the trainee beautician performing the procedure in order to stop it from freaking me out.
There are two people in the entire state of Queensland who are not beauticians or doctors that I could suffer to have put their hands on me without having a very serious contemplation of violence. One of which was born in an area of Sydney that is only a hop-skip-jump from where I was born. You can blame me, people like my so-called family, or people from my life, for this to your heart’s content. But if you watch people who have grown up in densely-populated (in this context, Sydney and above) cities, with your eyes open, you tend to notice something about how they interact with others. In crowded places like a shopping centre or a train station at peak time, they modify their spacings with others to fit as comfortably as possible in the crowd, but they will not go so close as to completely eliminate the space between themselves and others. When they are in more private, less-crowded spaces such as their home, a more sedate kind of party, or a work-related meeting, they will put a lot of space between themselves and people they are not intimate with. This is for a reason. The evolution of Homo Sapien over the past two million years has favoured a combination of seeking companionship with those who meet certain criteria (in my case, a certain kind of intelligence) and hostility to those so far outside of it that they can never meet it (in my case, a hostility that Adolf Hitler would be gobsmacked by). So when a person who is taller, heavier, and younger than you says to not touch them, Queenslanders, you fail to listen at your own peril.
By now, you will have noticed that I mention Queenslanders a lot in context of personal space. Again, there is a reason for this. Over the past three decades, I have lived in or near all three of the cities on the East Coast of the Australian country. To say that Queenslanders have by far the worst record in terms of customer service, respect for the personal space of others, and appropriateness of response to calls for help, is like saying that the sky is blue. And given some of the responses to calls for help that I have received in the other two cities, that I can say this about responses in a time when I knew more or less exactly what the problem really was is just plain shameful.
I must tell you, honestly, it never fails to anger and amuse me at the same time how people spew the words “we only get what we give” or “you only get out what you put in” as a defense against things like this. Why does that only apply in one direction, normies? Or does it just exclude things like abuse and neglect? (Which begs the question, why then are the majority of people convicted of child abuse and especially child sexual assault found to have been victims of such crimes in the past?)
In the past, when I was younger and had some idea that there was still hope, I aspired to be “free”. In this context, it meant at peace with myself and able to live in the company of at least someone who loved me in spite of what I am (or even for it). But let us be realistic here. Even if I found my way into the company of someone who loved me in spite of what I am now, I will never be able to shake these fears, pains, and apprehensions. Actions that apparently so many Queenslanders think are perfectly innocent have left me with scars that will keep me tainted for life. And to this day, not one of the people responsible for that has so much as heard the word “prosecute” uttered in their presence. You can rationalise this all you want, but that is exactly what it is: rationalising. And if you are alright with trying to rationalise allowing abusers to experience no consequences for their actions at all, you are not alright with me.
Okay, I am going to call it a day before I start to really do myself a mischief with all this rambling and what motivates it. If you have sifted something enlightening from this mess, then I thank you for making the effort.
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I don’t wish to chuck anything. It is hard to tell the difference between teasing and bullying when autistic. It’s hard to explain to people that touches that are normal for almost anyone else, are uncomfortable for you. I still struggle with judging bullying vs. teasing today. I have to sit back and evaluate. It’s especially hard when a person is struggling to walk away from PTSD, or even encased in trauma. I’m pulling for you.
I’m pulling for you=I wish wellness. I wish a successful journey out of the pain and darkness.