Domestic Abuse, Asperger’s and Autism – is there a connection?
If you are married to an abuser who has a diagnosis of autism/Asperger’s syndrome, you will face additional complications and dilemmas to those faced by other (“ordinary”) victims. “Little Miss Me”, one of our readers, commented about this in Jeff’s recent post The Confusion of Abuse – More Thoughts on the Fog. Here is what she said:
I spent years trying to understand the chaos. In my case, the chaos is compounded by autism/Asperger’s – which he would never admit was part of him until he needed it as another excuse. I could never figure out why someone with autism/Asperger’s would be so disorganized, be so unable to follow schedules and rules. I now believe that it’s fine with him to live like that because it serves him with control (being the only one who knows what the schedule is, for example), and also with a means to get someone else to take care of things for him.
For a long time I was afraid to leave because I didn’t want to leave him because of a disability, even if he refused to acknowledge it and deal with it. I kept thinking that was the cause of our problems, and that if he could just understand the differences on how we perceive the world and work on understanding each other better, things would be fine. Besides, how evil must I be to leave someone with so many struggles? Why can’t I just love him for who he is?
I now understand that he has no desire to understand me any more than he needs to do so to control me, to get me to do things for him, and to satisfy his needs. Being wired differently does not mean that he cannot connect to another person (yes, it might make it more difficult) but there must be a desire to connect. I see that desire in other people with autism/Asperger’s, and I know it’s possible, and well worth the difficulty it poses.
I know that a subset of victims of domestic abuse have been (or still are) married to a spouse who has autism or Asperger’s. We would love this post to be a special place to address this topic. Please share your thoughts, your experiences, your professional expertise, and any links you might have to support networks for this special group of survivors.
We may also have a subset of victims who are parents of children who have autism. The Life We Never Expected: Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs by Andrew and Rachel Wilson comes highly recommended and is on our Resources page.