Welcome to RMB’s Naked Pictures of Faceless People, a series of guest posts from diverse anonymous bloggers. (Read more about NPFP’s origins.) These are the posts that are jumping to get out of us, but for whatever reason — safety, embarrassment, conflict of interest, protection of loved ones’ reputations or feelings, or so on — we don’t or won’t or can’t post at our own blogs. Anyone, whether blogger or reader only, is welcome to submit or discuss a potential post by emailing me at arwyn at raisingmyboychick dot com.
Trigger Warning: There is a trigger warning on this post for references to child abuse and violence against people with disabilities.
Surviving Abuse with Disabilities
I am an abuse survivor, although I don’t like to use the word “abuse”. I was physically and emotionally hurt by my parents. I am also disabled. Autistic, among other things. These two things may not seem like they have anything to do with each other, but they do.
First of all, people with disabilities are more commonly victimized to abuse than the general population. This may be for several reasons that I do not understand, but it is true. Secondly, disabled people may be less likely to report abuse, for example because they do not have the skills to communicate what happened to them. These are both points that warrant attention, but this is not what I’m going to write about now.
What I’ll write about is when abuse is excused by a person’s disability. My parents beat me on quite a regular basis, and more often said that I was worthless and that they were only parenting me because no foster home would want me. These actions would’ve been considered abusive if they happened to a person without disabilities, but in my case, almost everyone — even my therapist — contends that my autism is the root cause of it all.
You see, I had behavior problems as a child and young adult. I had frequent meltdowns in which I would scream and yell and sometimes, as a child, act physically aggressively towards my parents. Even though no one says that this excuses the actions my parents committed, people often do say that it is my autism that is the main problem, and that, if my parents had sought help for my autism — which they didn’t, since they were in denial –, nothing would have happened.
Even in abuse survivor communities I sometimes hear talk as if my disability is at fault instead of my parents having to take responsibility for their actions. Once, I wrote to a support group about being triggered by an article that revealed that children with behavioral conditions are more likely to be victimized to abuse, and I was informed repeatedly by a fellow member that people needed to protect themselves and others from the hurt done by children with behavior problems. This gave me the idea that my disability was truly at fault for the abuse. When someone stuck up for me and said the other member’s words were inappropriate and that abuse by parents is never the child’s fault, this person was reprimanded by the group owner.
I have internalized a lot of the logic that says that disability makes abuse understandable. Survivor guilt is the result, but a more complicated kind of survivor guilt than that experienced by most survivors of trauma and abuse. “It was not your fault,” simply doesn’t make sense when people go on to blame an integral part of who I am.
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