A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

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.

165 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I think it is necessary to convey that not all people with Autism and Aspergers end up being abusive to their partners. Some do. People without Autism and Aspergers end up being abusive to their partners. Some don’t. The thing about people with an autism spectrum disorder or ASD (which includes Aspergers) is that there are a lot of deficits in social skills, especially in reading other people, in recognizing body language, in recognising changes in tone. Some times these people can come off as rude, or uncaring. This is not to say that they cannot be taught these skills, because they can. That is what all the early intervention programs are all about. Being married to someone with ASD can be challenging, especially if they have not accepted and dealt with their diagnosis, especially if they have not gone through any intervention programs to assist with their deficits. I believe though if both parties are willing, a marriage can work. It takes both people to be educated about the specifics of their ASD and also not use it as a cop out. ASD is not an excuse for abuse. People with ASD are as responsible for their behaviour as anyone else. What I don’t want to see happen is for people to interpret the actions of the ASD individual (ie: the lack of empathy, the lack of insight into each other etc) as abusive behaviours because that is untrue. It is often said that these individuals are mind blind, they can’t read the mind of others. You would not say a blind person is abusive because they cannot see you. You understand their physical limitations. The same has to be done for people with ASD. Understanding is required. Education is required. People with ASD can achieve great things in life, just like the rest of us, if given the chance to.

    • sara

      My autistic husband got abusive when I became pregnant. His behaviour got worse after the child was born. Only hearing the baby cry, can lead to violence.

      [Eds: comment modified slightly so it referred only to the commenter’s own experience.]

    • GratefulBeliever

      Anonymous is correct. In fact, many with ASD/Aspergers wind up being the recipients of abuse–not the abusers. As someone with Aspergers who survived a very abusive first marriage to a non-autistic person, I am testament to that fact.

  2. Little Miss Me

    Well said, Anonymous (except that people with ASD DO have empathy – they just have trouble expressing it the same way most people do). I am certainly NOT blaming ASD for the abuse, or saying that people with ASD are more apt to be abusive!

    My point was that the ASD is just one factor in my relationship, and that for a long time I had hoped that if we dealt with that, the problems would go away. But guess what? There were so many other issues (anger, entitlement, control, immaturity, etc.) that are maybe, maybe not related to the ASD that I can’t figure out where one problem ends and another begins. So for me, ASD added to the confusion of what was happening, and made it more difficult for me to take care of myself because of the additional challenges and guilt attached to living with and eventually leaving someone with a neurological difference.

    But the bottom line is that regardless of the cause(s) of his behaviors, he is still responsible for them. I gave him understanding and patience to work through it, tried to suggest things and go to therapy and tried ASD ‘interventions’ in attempts to connect with him. He refused, and threw more anger and blame my way. Once I decided to leave, he suddenly decided to acknowledge the ASD, but he is the one who has tried to use that as an excuse for his behaviors (being careful not to acknowledge that he was abusive).

    My hope is that with the right counseling, knowledge, and help he will be able to work through his issues and be a better father to our ASD child, who will then have a better chance at having successful relationships in the future.

    • Slynn

      Sounds more like a narcissist. Some narcissists diagnose and disguise themselves as ASD to get away with things.

      • hisdaughterhischild

        At 40 my husband told the marriage counselor that he thought he had autism. Since our divorce i have come to believe he is a covert narcissist. My counselor didnt believe the autism comment, but she does agree with about the naricissism.

      • Welcome to the blog, hisdaughterhischild!

        We like to encourage new commenters to read the New Users Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

        Again, Welcome!

  3. Anonymous

    One other thing I forgot to post was that people with ASD have problems with executive function, and that is where the lack of self organisation and problems with schedules comes in. A lot of children with ASD require parents help in this area, adults have secretaries or spouses that help. Little Miss, I was married to someone who had never been formally diagnosed. We split when our son was 5 months old. He was diagnosed with Aspergers when he was 3 and it was only then that I could look at my ex husband and realise some of what was going on. It didn’t excuse what happened, it just gave me further insight. I feel stuck in the middle between my experiences with my ex (there was a lot of emotional abuse) and gorgeous wonderful loving and caring son. I see the Aspergers in two very different ways. The thing is that I want my son to have the chance to have a wonderful marriage and I don’t want people to assume that because he has aspergers he is going to be abusive. That being said, there were abusive elements at work in my marriage. Some people say that is because of his suspected aspergers, some say it is his personality. What I can say for certain is that he was never willing to accept responsibility for any of his actions and it is for this reason our marriage failed.

    • Little Miss Me

      I see it in two ways, too! I totally understand that – my son is also one of the most caring, loving, and (overly) empathetic souls around. His father has also chosen not to accept responsibility, either.

      I think that, in my situation, the attitudes and beliefs he had, combined with anger were really the bigger issues that led him to treat me the way he did – ASD was just something that maybe made it harder for him to deal with those issues in a healthy way.

      I do find it interesting that I have read that both abusive and ASD men can be very charming and loving at the beginning of relationships. I think abusers tend to do this to hook their mates into believing that they’re so wonderful and love the women so much and then the power and control issues come into play. ASD men, sometimes, try to act as “normal” as possible and then feel that when the woman loves them they can then be themselves and they drop their facade and some of the difficult behaviors start to show up.

      I thought I had found this really great guy and couldn’t figure out what was happening when he changed over time (I still don’t, and never will be able to tell what the causes were). When I became the target of anger, blame, and abuse, I was still wondering when I’d see that great guy again, and what I needed to do to get him back. Turned out it wasn’t up to me.

      • Slynn

        I have autism. I have been abusive, but not in all the ways everyone is saying. NOT on purpose. Sometimes confusion was so great, my hands would flail and I’d have this instinct to “charge” at my partner. I hated it, I hated ever putting my hands on him. I have been in therapy since I was fifteen. I was good at talking things out, it’s what therapy had programmed me to do as the right thing. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t talk to me. I let it go, occasionally lashing out of things got confusing or I felt scared and desperate but the most part I did everything I could do to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. When I got, it was never a planned thing, it was more like a reflex and I always admitted and apologized to my partner. I even left him a few times and tried to live in separate homes hoping and thinking we could be together if we didn’t live together. I tried charts and making word cards to be a visual that he could hand me if I was getting wound up instead of just him yelling at me to stop cause I couldn’t always process or let go of things that easily.

        I understand abuse is wrong, but when you have little to no warning that your body is going to react then it just seems unfair. Even when I was learning to walk away from things and moments, I still had times my first instinct was to lash out. Then I’d realize what I did and run off to be alone and cool down. When you have someone like me, who is coming up with so many ways to stop themselves from doing it, it would help if the partner was also helping.

        What most of these post describe are a narcasssist. Most aspire I know have meltdowns or need silence but are never truly trying to abuse. Most of us hate ourselves cause of instinctual fight or flight can be so bad to other people. Aspies generally feel remorse or guilt after we freak out. Narcissists do not. Sociopaths do not, abusers and control freaks do not.

        I am not saying aspies can’t be abusive, I’m just saying most of what you complain about might not always be what you see and it might be more than autism. I am a very calm, nice, caring person and I’m generally very calm, so having meltdowns are embarrassing, having tantrums suck and are. Embarrassing. I hate it.

  4. Thank you to both of you, this is a really interesting discussion, and I trust others as well as me will benefit from it.

  5. Jen D.

    Hi…I’m trying to sort out what’s going on. I am separated. My ex sexually assaulted me multiple times. He engaged in reckless driving to punish me for asking him to drive more safely. He would insult me and completely ignore my boundaries around things – such as me asking him repeatedly, even in the same conversation, to stop doing something. He’d also lie, omit, change his story, mock me, tell me I was crazy and so on. He is in therapy and his therapist told me that she thinks he’s Aspie and that he has no empathy and social anxiety, so he can’t be blamed for any of this, as he never intended to hurt me. But I’ve been reading on the web and it sounds like even someone who is Aspie should be able to understand “stop”, “don’t touch that”, “you’re scaring me”, “please listen”, “do I have your commitment that you will/won’t do_______”. And it sounds like people who are Aspie cannot do wordplay, sarcasm, puns and that they wouldn’t enjoy comedies and dramas, read dramatic fiction, enjoy scary movies, make jokes, flirt, discuss a range of conversation topics, be spontaneous, like variety, etc. And they wouldn’t be able to be worried about their kids’ feelings or to reflect them back (“Joey seems scared”, “Joey really likes ____”, “Janey made a hilarious joke”, etc). My friend, who’s a psychiatrist, told me a long time ago that she thinks my ex has a lack of empathy and social anxiety (and perhaps some other disorder), not Asperger’s, because he wouldn’t be able to do those other things and, as a friend, she never once suspected Asperger’s in her interactions. Does the counsellor’s untested assumption sound a bit off to you? And does it completely remove reponsibility for one’s actions? She seemed to think I was crazy to be worried about my safety, because “he doesn’t do any of this with the intention of hurting you”.

    • Dear Jen, that counselor’s comment certainly seems off to me. Very off. Many counselors and mental health and welfare professionals don’t understand domestic abuse well enough. It is not covered in their training much. From what you’ve described about your ex, he shows the marks of a classic abuser, and has many many tactics of verbal, emotional and sexual abuse that he used against you. Also I’m guessing that he may be pretty skilled at inviting others to collude with him – and has done this with that counselor. Maybe he cleverly portrayed himself with aspie symptoms, to lead that counselor astray. Or maybe the counselor began to hint that he was aspie, and he picked up that diagnosis and ran with it, because it gives him a get out of jail free card, ad infinitum.

      Your research on the web seems valid. I’m glad there are things on the web that help you weigh up the differences between aspie symptoms and non-aspie symptoms. Lundy Bancroft notes that an abuser can have a mental illness AND be an abuser – two distinct problems – and if you treat the mental illness, he will still have the abuse problem. I know Asperger’s Syndrome is not a mental illnesss, but it is a mental and emotional syndome, and as such, I’m sure that what Lundy said applies to it too. Therefore, a person could be aspie AND be an abuser. Two different problems.

      The question of whether or not your ex is aspie, is only important in as much as it might imply he needs two-pronged intervention: (1) Confrontation and strict censure and penalties for his abusiveness; (2) intervention to enable him to better manage his Asperger’s (IF he has it).

      But your psychiatrist friend may well be right (She sounds right to me!) that your ex is not aspie at all. I’m not a professional mental health worker, I’m only a survivor and someone who has out of general interest read a lot in this field, but I personally don’t like even the words ‘social anxiety’ being used about abusers, because to me that sounds like another get out of jail free card.

      I think the psychiatrist is SPOT ON when she says your ex lacks empathy. George Simon Junior, Martha Stout, and writers like them talk about how abusive manipulative, sociopathic/psychopathic people lack empathy. In fact, they have either zero conscience, or a very inadequate conscience. They DON’T CARE how much they hurt others in pursuit of their own needs and twisted agendas. And sometimes they take DELIGHT in hurting others, because it means they’ve WON, and winning is the most important thing to them. Look at how your ex would escalate his dangerous driving, when you complained and pleaded for him to stop it.

    • Tyler

      “And it sounds like people who are Aspie cannot do wordplay, sarcasm, puns and that they wouldn’t enjoy comedies and dramas, read dramatic fiction, enjoy scary movies, make jokes, flirt, discuss a range of conversation topics, be spontaneous, like variety, etc. And they wouldn’t be able to be worried about their kids’ feelings or to reflect them back ”

      I do all those things, except enjoy scary movies. I’m not particulary good at flirting and usually I don’t like spontaneity but sometimes I do. I think thats why they call it spontaneity though, because it is out of the ordinary. Actually liking wordplay and and puns being very into fictional stories and having a a lot to say on a variety of topics are very typical Aspergers traits. People with Aspergers are not robots. I am sure there are some people with Aspergers that are abusers, but any more than people without Aspergers, no. That said he doesn’t sound much like an Aspie. We usually aren’t very manipulative, even if we try to be, and while I am not going to say Aspies are incapable of being mean most tend to be fairly nice. Despite what certain crackpot scientists may say lack of empathy is not a part of Autism, its a lack of reading body language and understanding subtle social norms most people pick up intuitively. So sometimes Autistic people miss others emotional cues but to say we don’t have empathy would be a bit like calling a deaf person a total jerk because they didn’t respond when you verbally told them something sad.

      Why don’t we start an article called Domestic Abuse and Jews for people to talk how if you are married to an abuser who is diagnosed with Judaism there will be additional problems for you. I think that would be considered highly offensive? There seems to be no limit to the negative stereotypes and comments that can be leveled on those with Aspergers. We are real people who have to live with this label around our necks, because we need it sometimes, but most of the time it sucks. Thank you psychologist for giving me this wonderful gift of a label that basically means I am some miserable nerd that no woman will ever love that is highly prone to being a serial killer and or abuser and just a generally unlovable drain on society who lacks the basic ability to emphasize with another human being. That label is the absolute opposite of who I am

      • Tyler – You’re jumping to conclusions. This post and the comments within it are not persecuting people with a particular diagnosis. The post is asking a question, and the vast majority of the comments (and really the initial post) reflect that Asperger’s and Autism are NOT causes (or excuses) for abuse. (It is widely recognized also that people with Autism or Asperger’s are generally much more likely to be victims of abuse, but that’s a topic for another day.)

        The point of Jen D’s comment was to check on what she’s been told – that lack of empathy = Asperger’s. That is completely wrong, and I think Barbara was trying to say that as well. Many people with autism and Asperger’s actually have an excess of empathy, but a difficult time expressing it the same way neurotypicals might.

        I’ve seen no one here blame their abuser’s actions on a diagnosis. I saw my manipulative ex do it all the time – he used his neurology to insist that I tolerate his intolerable behavior, and to try to make me understand him and support him in abusing me further.

        An Asperger/ASD diagnosis in an abuser can add to much of the confusion commonly experienced by people who have been subjected to abusive partners, largely because of challenges in communication that are often experienced between neurotypicals and people with ASD/Asperger’s. That is why this is worthy of discussion.

        Those of us who have been abused by someone with an ASD/Asperger’s diagnosis are merely here to support one another – which mostly means trying to separate the diagnosis (which deserves understanding and acceptance) from the abuse (which does NOT deserve understanding and acceptance).

        Are you newly diagnosed? Are you getting support that you need? I ask because you seem to be sensitive to negative stereotypes (not saying you shouldn’t be) and I’m wondering if you could use more positive role models with Asperger’s – Aspies who have successful marriages and careers and families and interests. They’re out there, but not always easy to fine because they’re busy just being regular people.

        I also think that your “label” can be what you make of it. It doesn’t have to be a sentence to fit someone else’s perception of who you are – it can serve you with additional information about how you and the world work so you can become who you want to be.

      • Thank you LMM, I think your reply to Tyler was very helpful, and I hope he finds it so.

        To Tyler, I’m sorry that I took a few days to approve your comment. I was busy with lots of balls in the air (as usual) and I wanted to give it careful thought before publishing it. I do hope you ticked the little box so you are now following this thread.

    • Tsungilosdi (formerly Jul)

      I still would like to reiterate that there can always be the possibility of OCPD. On a forum for that diagnosis, a LOT of people first assume their spouse is an Aspie. Then they finally figure out that it is OCPD. Here is one link: http://psychcentral.com/disorders/obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder-symptoms/
      There can even be people with ocpd and ocd, so that can make the distinction more difficult. On the forum, we also discuss the “theory of mind” topic as a possible issue with ocpd. However it sure feels like a lack of empathy if it isnt really. In any case, abuse is not acceptable no matter if diagnosis or not.

      • thank you, Tsingilosdi, for sharing this.

    • FutureisMine

      If your husband acts differently in front of others, the short answer is that you are being abused. Diagnosis or not, the bottom line is the same, and no one deserves abuse. I have decided myself after 9 years of hell that even at 57, the future of my life depends on the decisions I make today….Not his, or anyone else’s….Mine, and mine alone. So if you’re not in a good place with your life after a reasonable amount of time has been spent in the relationship/marriage, it’s time to get out; the only thing you will regret is that you didn’t do it sooner.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Well said FutureisMine!

      • Hi FutureisMine,
        Welcome to the blog!!
        You will notice that I changed your screen name to protect your identity. May I suggest you visit our New User’s page? It gives tips for staying safe when comment on the blog.

        Again, Welcome!

      • Oh, and FutureisMine,

        If you prefer a different screen name, feel free to contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com and I can change it 🙂

  6. I have had contact with Carol Grigg, a Christian who was the Co-Founder (2003) and coordinator of Asperger Syndrome Partner Information Australia Incorporated (ASPIA INC), a support group and website providing information and support for partners (& family members) of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome.

    Carol has written/compiled a Handbook providing information and practical guides for partners of adults with Asperger Syndrome (or traits of). You can preview or purchase the Handbook by following these links: Paperback e-book

    Carol recommends these sites for more information:
    Asperger Syndrome Partner Information Australia (ASPIA)
    ASPIA’s facebook page

  7. nojustice justus

    First of all thanks for this website and for providing a space to tell my story. I recently got out of a relationship with a man who has Aspergers and was also abusive and I hope my story can help others. The main thing I want to say is that I don’t think the ASD “caused” the abuse, but I feel like because I loved him and was one of the few people who was willing to put up with his behavior, he treated me like a verbal punching bag, someone to blame for his problems with ASD and to vent his frustrations about situations in his earlier life on [being bullied and excluded for example] and things that confused and upset him in his daily life that I did not cause [being misunderstood and failing to get along with people in general, stress at work, sensory overload, social anxiety, childhood issues and depression for example.] But if you are reading this because you are with someone with ASD and feel like you are being abused, please remember that regardless of your partners diagnosis, you do not have to put up with being treated this way. You did not cause his problems and you are not to blame for them. You do not deserve to be treated that way.

    I also want to say if you are in an abusive relationship with someone with ASD, please do not ignore the warning signs or talk yourself out of paying attention to red flags and things that you are not OK with early on, even if he says he can’t help it or it’s because of ASD. In the beginning it was really hard, because I didn’t want to be judgmental and I did want to be patient and understanding, and a lot of the things that happened were things I haden’t seen or had to deal with in a partner before. But your happiness and safety matter too and you have to trust your instincts and respect your own limitations about what you can do to help your partner. He still has to take responsibility for his actions and his part in the relationship, you can’t be his psychologist and his mother and his lover, it’s too much for one person.

    Especially pay attention if he says things like “I wouldn’t throw things if you didn’t argue with me” or “I wouldn’t call you names if you weren’t stupid/understood me better” etc… It’s very hard to be understanding and patient at all times, but you do not deserve to be treated that way, no matter what conditions or life experiences your partner is struggling with. I don’t know what it’s like to have ASD but I do understand that it’s extremely frustrating for them, but I also know if you and your partner get into a pattern, like my ex and I did, where it’s acceptable for him to take out his frustrations on you, things can escalate very quickly, from name calling to aggression like slamming doors or throwing things to physical or sexual violence. Again, this may not be because of ASD but ASD does cause a lot of frustrations and it’s dangerous and unacceptable for anyone to treat their partner, or anyone else, that way. I struggled a lot with blaming myself, but you are not to blame for his frustrations and it’s not right for him to take them out on you or for you to be always walking on eggshells and worried about when the next meltdown will occur and what might happen.

    In our relationship I said to him many times “it’s not OK for you to do [state exactly what the behavior is]” and the standard advice that is given in couples counseling “when you do [x] it makes me feel [y]” like, “when i tell you something very personal and private and you start laughing and joking about it, it makes me feel hurt and disrespected” or “when you throw things at me it makes me feel unsafe and afraid.” I feel like he memorised the socially acceptable response because he would usually say he understood and promise not to do that again, but just setting a basic boundry, like don’t make jokes about bad things that have happened to me, or don’t throw things at me, also seemed to trigger episodes of extreme negative emotions, like crying, expressing that he couldn’t help what he did, or turning it back on me by saying things like “when you say you don’t feel safe it makes me feel like I’m no good” or “when someone apologises you have to instantly forgive them.” Usually the ways he treated me that I was not happy about would continue after we had talked about them, so that is something else to be aware of, I think that some people who have ASD find it really hard to understand that after they have calmed down from an incident, you might still be upset or traumatised or not feel safe or like you can trust them for a longer time and my partner specifically would take it as a personal insult if he felt he had addressed it [for example because he apologised or because he stopped shouting a minute ago] and I have not forgiven him or was not able to immediately “get back to normal” or help him with his calming activities [ie hobbies he used to calm himself down.]

    Something that helped a bit was writing things down about 24 hours after something upset me and sending it to him, my ex could write emails thousands of words long explaining himself to me . He has done a lot of research about ASD so this helped me to understand it better, but I would honestly say that once things have become physically violent or you have started to feel unsafe, do not believe any promises your partner makes when he is feeling calm and in control, because, like with my ex, when he is upset or feeling out of control again he may not remember what he said or find it very hard not to return to the behavior patterns he is used to. From reading a lot about it I don’t know if I believe this is because of ASD, I think this is something that happens in a lot of abusive relationships regardless of whether someone has ASDt, but something to think about with an abusive partner who also has ASD is that it can be even harder for them to change behavior patterns or ways of venting their frustration/anger that they have become used to, so you have to be even more patient.

    If you are in a relationship with someone who has ASD and are not sure if their behavior is abusive or not, I would say read as much as you can about it, especially Dr Tony Attwood [google his name] and online forums or books written by people who have ASD and talk to your partner about it as much as you can. My ex told me a lot of things that helped me understand him, that a lot of the behaviors that can be abusive, for example rigidness, inflexibility and demands to accommodate him, are survival mechanisms that he learned as a child to deal with his issues. He said that sometimes he puts people down and sees the world as full of people who are stupid and inferior because feelings of superiority helped him deal with being different and ridiculed. I told him that I respect him for telling me that and I don’t want to judge him because of it, but everyone is equal, most people aren’t stupid or cruel [a few are], but just trying to survive and those survival mechanisms may have been necessary or appropriate when he was a child, but now he’s an adult he needs to examine them and learn new ways to cope. He has also said a few things that I feel are classically abusive and untrue, for example he once told me “Aspies are incapable of lying” – this was despite the fact that he has admitted to lying to me about being violent in past relationships and a few other things that were just as important. So that’s something else to keep in mind, do your own research and make your own decisions about what you believe. It’s not good or respectful to dictate to someone with any mental health condition about “what you’re really like” or “but the research says [x]” – only they can know and speak their own experiences – but if they are also abusive, don’t let them dictate reality to you, trust your own instincts and the evidence of your own senses. My partner would often deny that he had done things and claim over and over again that he respected me, but when I would call him out on disrespectful behaviour, like making jokes about bad things that had happened to me, he would claim that it was because of ASD. With a bit of peace and calmness in my life now I have had time to reflect and come to my own conclusions, that what he said doesn’t account for all the other people who have ASD who are capable of being respectful and doesn’t account for the fact that he doesn’t treat his boss that way, for example, or that he is extremely assertive about expressing himself when people are disrespectful to him. This is where what the original post said about class privilege and the other isms comes into it. For example my ex has a history of violence towards women and can be quite bossy and dictatorial towards men with lower social status than him, but is quite polite and submissive towards people who he [correctly] perceives have higher social status. It’s hard not to be judgmental about that, because we’ve all been raised under hierarchy, but it makes me think that the really important thing to think about when deciding if you want to be in a relationship with someone is how they treat people who have less power than they do. I wish I had remembered this earlier.

    About 5 months into our relationship my ex began counseling and I feel this was very positive for him and I’m still very proud of him for doing it. If your partner is willing to seek help I believe this can make a big difference. However you need to know that it can still take a long time to see any changes and you have to be even more patient, because counseling can bring up a lot of issues. What happened for us was that he became even more depressed and frustrated once it was finally confirmed that he had ASD and that it was something he would have to deal with for the rest of his life. Before that he would often blame me or other people for his problems, despite often saying that he had been dealing with them long before we met, for as long as he could remember. Not being able to blame others anymore can be really confronting and hard. So you still have to be very patient. But you have to think very carefully about your own safety and your own emotional well-being while you are being patient, if you are scared or stressed most of the time you are with him, ask yourself how you would feel if it took him 1 year or 2 years or 5 years to deal with this, because I believe it can take a long time to see positive changes and in our case things seemed to get worse to begin with. After about 4 months I could see some positive changes, for example he stopped drinking, which he had been doing to self-medicate for social anxiety and depression and his mood swings and “meltdown” episodes were a bit more controllable, but it wasn’t a big enough difference for me to overcome my fears for my safety or address my needs for basic stability, for example instead of taking 4 hours to calm down from a meltdown he would take 2-3 hours, which was slightly less exhausting but still too much for me.

    I feel my partner had very fixed and rigid ideas about what a relationship should be. For example, he seemed to believe that having a girlfriend was supposed to fix all his problems, he had expectations that my role was to accommodate him at all times, like having sex at any time he wanted it, even if he had just spent hours crying, verbally abusing me, calling himself worthless and saying that life was hopeless or even expressing his frustration by throwing things at me, slamming doors and storming off, within the space of about 2 minutes of that episode ending he would start kissing me and taking off my clothes and when I would try to explain that I didn’t want to have sex because I didn’t feel comfortable or safe he would sometimes have an emotional breakdown or start talking about what a terrible person he was and sometimes I would become afraid that he was going to hurt himself. That was one reason that I didn’t leave him sooner, because I didn’t want to see that happen. But I know now that this is very unhealthy and that I can’t be responsible for those feelings. I was way out of my depth and I feel there was an element of manipulation to that, even though he was genuinely in a lot of pain. I finally dealt with it upfront by saying he needed to deal with that with his psychologist because I didn’t have the experience or resources to help him, but there are people who do and they can help much more than I could. I know this was hard for him to accept, because he kept trying to argue with me that no, I actually could do everything he asked if I just tried harder, but I told him that he could believe that if he chooses to, but it’s not true and I was leaving.

    On the subject of sexual abuse, this is very hard to talk about, because I don’t want to stigmatise people with ASD but I think consent can be a real issue. I don’t know how much his problems with me saying no were to do with ASD and how much they were to do with his privilege, for example he did a lot of things that men who don’t have ASD but just don’t accept that a woman has a right to say no to sex also commonly do, despite the fact that in public he would say all the politically correct “nice guy” things. I feel uncomfortable saying it but I think it’s better to talk about it and I really hope this helps someone.

    So I have a feeling that tied up with all this is that in most social situations, if somebody becomes really upset and acts in an unstable way, like he often would with his meltdowns [which are part of ASD], most people will go out of their way to do anything that person wants to make them feel better, help them calm down and generally stop the episode as quickly as possible. Because being around someone who is that upset and out of control is a shocking, terrifying experience, no matter how many times it happens. I think my partner was used to people tiptoeing around him and making sacrifices, even doing things they didn’t want to do and that made them uncomfortable, in order to avoid triggering a meltdown and to make him feel better so it would stop sooner and the immediate crisis would end. He also had a way of blaming me and sometimes other people or other issues in his life for causing his meltdowns. And I think my partner used sex to feel better and to try and calm down and that he knew I was extremely upset and traumatised by seeing someone I loved in such a state, so there were a lot of examples of “do what I want/do what I say will make me feel better NOW or I will have a meltdown and you will be to blame.” Often I would have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he would have a meltdown if I didn’t, say things that were really hard and scary to hear or just not accept it if I said no, for example by following me from room to room or waking me up when I fell asleep from exhaustion. It just became the unspoken but accepted pattern in our relationship, that his desires always came first, whether it was his desire for me to stay up until 3am listening to him or doing one of his hobbies with him or his desire to have sex. He was physically violent with me when we had sex at one point early on in our relationship and after that the threat of it happening again was always in the background. But even without that the threat of his having a meltdown if I didn’t do what he wanted was always there, until one day I relaised that I had been scared and unhappy nearly every time I’d seen him for months and that I had no life of my own and I didn’t want to live this way anymore.

    It was hard to leave him, because at one point I really did love him and part of me still does, and I saw him struggle and knew things weren’t easy for him and that made me love him more. And I had a lot of evidence from our relationship to make me think he would make it very hard for me to leave, which he did. But ASD or any other mental health issue is not a free pass to get whatever you want from another person or ignore them when they say no, I don’t want this, that is unacceptable to me. When I left him I explained that I don’t see it as the role of a partner to do whatever the other person demands, but I see my role to be supportive within my limits and I am way beyond my limits. Love is not about making your partner unconditionally happy but about being honest with each other. He has finally accepted that it was over, I think, and has written a couple of emails where he apologises and talks about how he realises he has to take responsibility for his own issues now, but he has said similar things in the past so I don’t want to risk believing him again. On the night that we broke up he said something really honest and revealing to me and I respect him for saying it, he said that if I wanted to continue in the relationship I needed to accept that I would be the one making most of the compromises, because it’s easier for me to be flexible than him. I try not to blame him for his ASD or be judgmental, because I know he has struggles that I will never understand, but I know the relationship was not healthy and had to end.

    So that is my story, thank you for giving me this space to tell it, I feel it has helped me a bit to put things in perspective and I hope it helps someone. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice it would be to pay attention to my instincts early in the relationship and not to let ASD or the other things he has had to struggle with in his life or the constant sense of crisis prevent me from taking some time to myself and really asking: am I safe in this relationship? Am I happy? And once I knew the answer was no, doing whatever it took to get some stability back, because in the end I only have one life and this is it, so it doesn’t matter what he thinks, I get to just say no, I’m not willing to take anymore risks for this relationship or give anything more, ASD or no ASD, no one should treat me with so little respect.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Justus – Very, very thorough. Thank you for all the details in your story. This will no doubt be a very significant source of help for others now that it is posted. The fact is, there are some people who are simply not capable of being a spouse or parent, or to even be in any real relationship such as being a friend. I know others who are married to just such people with other conditions. They (the abuse victim) love their spouse, but are coming to the realization that having a relationship with them is simply impossible. And as you point out, it can even be dangerous.

    • Dear Justus. THANK YOU for that amazing and really detailed account. Wow! I think your story will be a great help to others. And the way you’ve described how you were thinking and responding at various stages during the relationship will be something other readers will identify with.
      You know, even those of us who did not have a partner with Autism Spectrum Disorder can relate to a lot of what you say, because the dynamics of abuse are the same across the board. Sure, ASD may add different dimensions and complexities to it, but it’s not the cause of the abuse.

      I really related to that thing your partner used to say to you: “When you say you don’t feel safe it makes me feel like I’m no good.” My second husband said virtually the same thing, except he reacted to my facial expression or the look in my eyes, even when I hadn’t said a word. If I looked at him with fear in my eyes, or indignation on my face at something he’d just done or said or failed to do or say (something that showed his disrespect for me) he would upbraid me by saying, “Don’t look at me like that! You’re acting I’m an abuser!”

    • Little Miss Me

      Justus,

      Nice to meet you, Sister! So many things resonate with me! “He still has to take responsibility for his actions and his part in the relationship, you can’t be his psychologist and his mother and his lover, it’s too much for one person.” You’re totally right, and that’s the way it was in my relationship.

      A few of the things your ex does remind me of my son, who is still quite young and learning – meltdowns, in particular. The difference is that my son is willing to learn, where your ex (and my son’s dad), not so much. I spent many years just trying to get mine to recognize that there was a difference in thinking – the ASD – and I held out so much hope that he would someday recognize it and see it as something we could both work through to save our marriage. He refused, over and over, until he even told me never to talk about it again. After I filed for divorce, he decided to say that was what the problem was, along with anger. He quickly read several books on anger and several more on ASD (even though our son was diagnosed several years ago, he never really read anything about it), and decided he had fixed himself and expected me to take him back. He blamed me for everything, and claimed I had never tried any of the techniques for dealing with Aspies that are in the books (apparently the techniques work better when there’s buy-in from the Aspie!)

      I also completely understand the expectations you talked about for meeting his needs with sex. I had a hard time with this as well because I kept reading things about people with ASD not liking sex that much (apparently the intimacy and sensory issues are sometimes hard to handle) and I would WISH that was my problem! But he expected me to provide him sex as a release, as an antidepressant, as a stress reducer, as a sleep aid, hobby, etc,, but I can’t remember the last time it had anything to do with being close or connecting. Maybe it never did.

      I am lucky that he was never violent with me, but he had learned somewhere many of the lines that couldn’t be crossed, and he seemed to think that just dancing up to the line made it OK. He is also very different with other people, and seems to be able to understand the rules in his other relationships. He would use that as evidence that there was nothing wrong with him.

      It amazes me what a disservice people like this do to others with differences/disabilities. I see in my son a loving child who wants to give love as much as he wants to receive it. That just confirms for me that it isn’t the ASD that caused the treatment I endured.

    • S

      WOW. Thank you so much for writing your story here, i actually cried in relief that someone else understands and grief that someone else had to go through it too. I am in a violent abusive relationship with a man with ASD and I can’t tell most of the time what is down to his ASD and what is him. I was searching on the internet for domestic violence and ASD and this came up; i was looking for a solution and now I see there probably isn’t one. Most of what you’ve written is the same for me and its the guilt and responsibility for him which is makes it the most difficult to make the right decision for me. I really admire your honesty and your bravery in walking away from the relationship as I know firsthand what a double-bind it is.

      Unfortunately I am one of two people my bf has regular contact with as he doesn’t have much contact with family and we live like 500miles away from them anyway so I feel very much alone with this. I too am caught between wanting to accomodate his needs whilst knowing he often cares not about mine or not how to meet them. I am currently trying to sort out therapy for both of us but due to the high cost of it, it might not be a possibility. What terrifies me the most is that once he had crossed that line it made it easier and easier for him to cross it and yet he recovers so quick and expects me to be equally resilient. I suffer from mental health issues yet I have support with this and can speak to family and friends about my own issues yet when its regarding him I can’t as he finds it unbearable invasion of privacy (so I do it secretly) and in fact most people (in my life) either don’t understand ASD or overcompensate for it and don’t see how much he should be held accountable. Therefore I am pretty isolated and I don’t see what to do. As he has moved he doesn’t have a GP so no help from local mental health teams till he (meaning i obviously) registers and private therapists specializing in ADS charge at least £40 a session and that’s with low income deductions. Even more if I want to be part of it too as I don’t think he will trust someone on his own to talk to them. He has been in and out of instituitons most of his life (behavioural problem school, care home, young offenders and prison) and never recieved proper support for his ADS so I do somewhat understand. This also means he hasn’t got a belief in them or authority so getting him to trust a therapist would be so difficult as he feels very rejected by the world.

      He is very emotionally manipulative often claiming I don’t love him or I am selfish (knowing my fear of being so) if I don’t do as he wishes or put his needs first. He has been known to lock me in, follow me, verbally and physically abuse me to the point I break something and intially it was from a meltdown but more and more seems when he is calm and just doesn’t like my behaviour. This isn’t just obvious stuff like during an argument but sometimes if I disagree during a casual conversation. My emotional unstability sometimes leads to me self harming or breaking down crying or having a panic attack due to fear or frustration at being locked in which he then uses as rationlization of his behaviour, “You were trying to hurt yourself so I hit you to get you to stop” or “I locked you in so you don’t go and kill yourself”. Which is ignoring that said behaviour was triggered by him doing that thing in the first place. What hurts even more is how quickly he recovers from his meltdowns (I mean when they lead to us fighting) and how it can take me all night to calm down often leads to a depressive episode for me. And I know I have issues but I have healthy relationships with with the other people in my life and seek help and tend to internalize my pain rather than lash out at others. I always seek approval and love but a bf with ADS isn’t the most affectionate person or complimentary or sensitive to my needs. I often wonder if he even cares but try and take into account his expression limitations even if he doesn’t take me special needs into account or can’t.

      My bf isn’t sexually violent but I never refuse him for fear of triggering a meltdown and therefore have often let him even when in physical pain, when I can’t understand how he can still find me attractive when I’m that visibly injured. Add that to the nasty insults I get about my appearance and him using personal info I told him against me and then now we are at the stage where I have begun to fight back in the same ways he does to me. Difference is I hate myself for every bad word and any mark I leave on him (usually just to get him off me but sometimes in retalilation) and he often seems indifferent or not beliveing that it hurts that much or that those words were unjust. Only when he seriously injured me to the point of blood pouring and needing x-rays did he finally say (of his own accord) its unsafe for me to be with him. I (the idiot) said I didn’t want to leave him and soothed HIM in the days following about it as i was amazed at the apology and guilt he felt and tried to express. Well with words as that was about all I was capable of at the time. He did the shopping, errands and helped me get dressed and helped me to the bathroom – for once looking after me as I was physically unable to. This extended to random kisses on the face speaking to me sweetly like he had never before as I drifted in and out of conciousness. Although I intially thought it was just guilt since then he really does seem to be more loving of me overall (still not like a NT but signifigant for him) as it was like I had passed the ultimate test by staying and he began to be more affectionate.

      Interestingly the worse either of us act the more I want out but the more he feels we are closer and now openly tells me things that used to take weeks for him say. Additionally he now demands certain (allowed) physical contact which is often nuturing in theory and in fact one of the earliest ways he let me be physically close to him was if it involved looking after him. E.g I wouldn’t be allowed to sit next to him on the bed or sofa but I would be ‘permitted’ to give him a backrub or brush his hair. I often feel like his mother emotionally, physically and practically sometimes as he needs me to regulate him with his daily routine. I think he has a combo of ADS, chaotic intitutional upbringing and a confused relationship with his mother to make a deadly mix inside his head. Ironically enough although he finds it hard to maintain anything other than casual friendships he can hold down jobs and I am the one who cannot. Before when he used to lock me in (regardless of where we are at the time) it was out of anger or calm certainty that it was necessary that I stay but now I keep expressing my wish to get out of the relationship or that it isn’t ‘normal’ he sometimes does it openly out of insecurity breaking down and crying and saying i can’t leave him. Even if all i was doing was going to a friend’s house round the corner for an hour or so. It’s because all that time ago I wondered whether we were compatible (early on in our relationship, wasn’t even trying to end things) ever since then he can’t bear me to physically leave him when he feels insecure in case it’s forever. He doesn’t understand that that is the exact type of behaviour that made me want to leave and in fact I never wanted to do so until he said I couldn’t if I wanted to.

      Lots of things in your post really resonated for me, like the thing about safety. My bf really doesn’t understand how terrifying he comes across and has says things so %*#%? sometimes I almost want to laugh despite it. E.g the other day after threatening me and seeing me look fearfully at him 10mins later he said “It’s not like I was really gonna drag you down that alley way I would have done it by now I was just angry” even though he basically never makes empty threats. And he hates it when I act scared or cry often mocks me or claims I exaggerate for attention (in general or to attract strangers to help me) which may seem like he doesn’t want me to be safe but is really more about him not identifying with being an abuser. For this is provide the perfect example, the classic..
      “Stop screaming you’re gonna make the neighbours think I’m hitting you!”
      me: “You are!”

      Its funny when I met him I admired his self-sufficiency but not long after we got together he stopped trying so hard and (especially after we dicussed ADS which I guessed and let him tell me about) expected me to do everything. Now I know a bit better I do refuse him certain things which also still a battle of wills like with child refusing to go to bed. But I still do all the cooking (he is quite rubbish) all the cleaning (he never bothers) and we fight over money alot. Mainly over the fact he spends it like it grows on trees has no boundaries with mine (or any of my stuff come to think of it like cigarettes or special food) and will leave us with nothing to live off if I didn’t intervene. AND he is older than me! At least I can’t be accused of looking for a surrogate father! It saddens me that I am so frustrated and resentful that I can’t even appreciate all the good things about him and our relationship like the interests we have in common, his wit and observations, our quick trust we had in one another, and just how we first got together we both really enjoyed each other’s company doing things like shopping and going walks and could easily spend hours talking to each other. If he could go back to trying more to think of what I need then I could find the strength and patience to deal with him again, if we both respected my needs and my body again… i don’t know.
      There probably is no hope I understand that but you see he has no one else and no matter what he’s done to me I will always care if he’s hungry or cold or safe or scared. And I don’t think he’d let me go anyways, not for years at least. His harsh upbringing has taken away any ‘usual’ fears people have so prison and violence aren’t a problem to him. He in fact said if I do try and move on and to someone else if he sees me with ANY man he will hurt him in case its a new bf and he’s been known to be reckless when he feels like he’s lost everything. Now to be honest its more about gettting him some support rather than saving/fixing the relationship so I can have some semblance of a normal life even if he’s still in it. I’m scared that one day he’ll take it to far with me or himself or someone else…Wish I knew how to help him. He told me once in a random honest moment of clarity (before all the violence) he is scared to have children as autism is a curse and he’d never wish it on anyone and he fears that they would feel as isolated and frustrated as he did/does. It saddens me that he doesn’t know that autie children raised by supported loving knowledgable parents can have happiness and success and they are not alone.

      • Dear S, I am worried for you. It doesn’t sound safe for you to be in that relationship. I suggest you read Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That?” , and I also suggest you consider contacting a Domestic Violence Support Service (Women’s Aid it’s called in the UK) to talk over your options. They won’t tell you what to do, but they will help you consider your risks you might be facing by staying or by leaving, and how to minimise those risks.
        I don’t think you are appreciating how dangerous this man could be to you. On the one hand you say he might really do something dreadful to you someday (and that’s true) but on the other hand you are still focused on trying to help and sympathise with him. The fact is , men who use violence and verbal and emotional abuse against their partners, who trap them, lock them up, control their social lives, threaten them, etc, don’t improve their behaviour, they get progressively worse and worse.
        Please take it from me, you are at high risk of serious danger from this man.

        It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay not to be able to do it on your own. This is tough stuff, and we all need support when we are dealing with abusers who are so self-focused and believe in their entitlement, and who have little or no conscience.

        Do read more on this blog, look at our Resources page, and keep coming back as much as you wish to. We are mostly Chrisiians here, and that doesn’t mean a person can’t be part of our little cyber community if they are not a Christian, but it does mean that those of us who are Christians have help from Jesus Christ in a personal way, help that non-Christians do not have. So I encourage you also to find out more about Jesus, as he really understands what you are going through. The best way to find out about Jesus is to read the Bible. Start with one of the books in the new testament (the last third of the Bible). Maybe Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Bless you, and hope you find encouragement from our blog.

    • Cheryl

      Oh my goodness. Reading this is just what i am going through right now. Just separated from my husband of 18 yrs about 11 weeks ago. He was diagnosed with aspergers about 9 months ago although i knew before that but he didn’t want to trust my judgement (despite the fact i worked for an adult autism team) He just thought i was paranoid and i thought maybe i was but it was just too obvious. He has been physically abusive to me and the police wouldn’t let him come back, and my minister also said he should stay away from us.
      He wants to get back together and is really trying, even suggesting a new baby (I’m a young 45, and he is 50!), but however much i like the thought a baby will not fix the problems. He has attacked me over moving furniture, commenting on where a shed should be, and gets angry at trivial things. He has got angry with others a few times too when things are outside his control. He thinks i should be submissive and obey him. He likes to control everything too and gets angry when he cant. I’ve battled with the thought of divorce being a Christian and my husband a very black and white Christian says im not a christian if im going to divorce him and what about my wedding vows in sickness and in health, honour and obey! He has broken the marriage vows by not loving me and cherishing me. in fact many times i’ve been in hospital and he never came in with me and bullied me afterwards into peeling potatoes one handed etc.
      He thinks we should tip toe around him and not cause any stress whatsoever that might stress him out, but that’s not reality and sometimes he gets stressed with external situations anyway. I cant do this any more. I am a bit depressed whereas usually i am bubbly and outgoing. I’ve lost so much confidence. i would love to see what a normal relationship should be like and just learn to relax and get my confidence back. my two kids have suffered and particularly my daughter who is a beautiful Christian girl with a strong faith but she struggles with feeling isolated and not many friends. She has one close out of school friend and that’s it.
      The house is so much calmer without him around and my two teenage children are a lot calmer too. I have lost my identity a bit in all of this. Also, my life seems to revolve around the children and i need to make a life for myself in time too. I still care for him (not sure i love him as he has treated me so badly) but he is impossible to live with. Gets angry and shouts even when someone is temporarily parked blocking our driveway whilst picking their child up. its so frustrating and he doesnt see that his reaction is wrong. He sees it as them being at fault! The only thing is i don’t have family around here and not many friends to be honest. Just one good friend, the others are just acquaintances. I could do with a really good friend to talk things through with. Is there any group near me or anyone i can call who will understand and can talk things through with me? I live in the South of England, UK

      • Hi Cheryl, welcome to our blog and (hugs) to you.
        I don’t know of any group near you to recommend. I’m in Australia, and most of our other readers and all our regular writers are in the USA. But we don’t know where all of our readers live so maybe there is someone near you in the UK. I shall create a short post linking back to your comment, so all our readers are aware of your request.
        I am glad this post has helped you. I hope you find lots more help on our blog.
        Being married to an abuser who also happens to be ASD is a journey I don’t know personally, but I gather it can be really difficult.

        I hope that some of the other people who have commented on this thread will chime in and make reply to you. I know how hard it is to feel alone at such as time as this. You must be a very strong and resilient lady to have survived all those years in that marriage, so the strength and resilience will no doubt help you find your way now.

        Regarding the divorce issue, I suggest you read my book: you can see it in the sidebar to the right. Your husband may never change his rigid thinking on divorce, but you can develop your own convictions about divorce being permitted / encouraged by the Bible for cases of abuse. My book should help you there.

      • jayne

        Hi I have just found this blog after typing in cruelty from aspergers husband to google! I have been in a confused fog for two years now and like all it seems have a very long complicated story to go with it. My husband and me are separated and have a six year old daughter who has had to deal with circumstances that no six year old should ever have to deal with. I am feeling isolated in my situation especially with the aspergers part of all of this as I have swung back and forth with accepting that it could be the main cause of our problems. My daughter however began having meltdowns last year and I strongly suspect that they may be more than a passing reaction to our situation. I live in York uk and would find it extremely helpful to talk to another person with similar experiences. I am 48 and have 3 older children in their 20s who have left home. I have read the previous posts and felt relief that I am not alone in the fog. My husband, we are not divorced yet as he avoids responding to any correspondence from my solicitor. He wants to keep arrangements just between him and me with no involvement from other people as that is how he maintains control. He is not seeing our daughter at the moment as he finally found somewhere to live after leaving us but refuses to let me know where it is. I couldn’t let our daughter go and stay without knowing where she was. He couldn’t understand why it was an issue and when I asked why he wouldn’t tell me where he was living he said that it was because I might turn up unexpected. I have accomodated so many of his difficult behaviours for years because I love him and suspected aspergers was a possible cause. I have given him so many options around seeing our daughter, and each time I think some stability and regularity has been achieved he changes the goal posts and chaos ensues again. For me and my daughter. I recently gave in to his demands about the address issue because he said he was distressed at not seeing our daughter but as soon as I did he said he couldn’t see her as he was going away for a week. This has been the scenario with our daughter for two years now. Initially when he left he would disappear for long periods and my daughter would get so distressed as would I. He would return and see how distressed she was and just get angry. Very angry. He agreed to get a diagnosis for aspergers and then did nothing. There are so many other stories within this story that I could type forever and not get to finish it. Right now I feel that if I could speak to someone about the emotional and psychological abuse I seem to be on the receiving end of and my daughter too that I will somehow be able to break free of this cycle. I want my daughter to have a healthy loving relationship with her dad and I would like her dad to co parent her with me. He says he wants this too but is doing everything he can it seems to sabotage any good arrangements. Two years down the line. I am still no closer to helping us achieve that. The tremendous pain and grief has eased but the behaviour from my husband towards me seems to have got worse. I don’t know if anything I have written makes any sense at all as I am more confused now after writing it! I have written about my situation before on an aspergers support site but didn’t post it as every time I write about our situation my head feels scrambled. I think I am proberbly on the autistic spectrum myself as I really only found out about aspergers two years ago when a friend suggested that the behaviours my husband was displaying fitted.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Hi Jayne- Very glad you found us! Welcome!

        You wrote: “I want my daughter to have a healthy loving relationship with her dad and I would like her dad to co parent her with me. He says he wants this too but is doing everything he can it seems to sabotage any good arrangements. Two years down the line. I am still no closer to helping us achieve that. The tremendous pain and grief has eased but the behaviour from my husband towards me seems to have got worse.”

        It is natural to desire these things, but from the scenario you describe it simply is not going to happen. Your husband’s words are meaningless, as demonstrated by his unchanged actions. Waiting and hoping, only to be mistreated and disappointed time after time is only doing damage to you and your daughter. Aspergers? Well, that is for an expert to diagnose. Fundamentally however you are being dealt with in a very abusive manner, you have been repeatedly abandoned, and those actions – regardless of what the motive for them is – are evil.

        I would very much recommend that you read the following books as soon as possible. I suspect that you will find that there is FAR more intentionality and culpability on your husband’s part in his mistreatment of you and your daughter than you might realize. These books have helped many people greatly and they contain information that is vital for you to know:

        1. Why Does He do That? by Lundy Bancroft
        2. Character Disturbance, by George Simon, Jr.
        3. The Judas Syndrome, also by George Simon.

        From a Christian perspective, Barbara Roberts has written Not Under Bondage, which addresses the right to divorce for abuse. And I wrote A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church, which addresses not only the nature of abuse, but how Christian victims are so often dealt injustice by their churches.

        I suspect that if you do this reading, you will begin to have a much greater understanding of just what your husband has been doing to you and thus will be better equipped to make good decisions in dealing with him.

        Many blessings in Christ. Please keep visiting us and let us know how you are doing.

    • Thank you. I have just read this after coming back from my counsellor where I discussed my abusive(?) relationship with my ASD partner. He blames everyone else but himself for his issues, even his ASD. I walk on eggshells everyday and try to placate him all the time but last night we had an horrendous argument and he called me abusive for shouting at him. Yet he is the one being abusive to me. I have to reply to texts within 3 mins or he sends nasty ones. I have to answer the phone every time he rings and if I don’t I get the third degree. Where were you? Why did you not answer? He books his nights away yet gets nasty if I have any time to myself. Throws tantrums when I am too ill to go out for an evening, yet if he changes anything that’s ok. Last night’s meltdown was precipitated by a lack of an evening meal. He said he didn’t want to eat anything then an hour later asked where tea was. When I explained that he’d said he didn’t want anything to eat he replied that he was being sarcastic! Yet I am not allowed to say anything sarcastic to him at all as that is, apparently, one of the worst things to do to someone with ASD. I am not a mind reader yet he expects me to know exactly what he wants. I struggle with where to draw the line, what is abusive and what is an ASD response but your story has helped clarify a few things for me. Thanks. 🙂

      • Round*Two

        Fairmac,

        Ahh…the texting and phone calls! ugh! In my situation, stalking soon followed! You’re situation sounds very similar to mine. ( I am NOW divorced,) but my ex is an alcoholic, (which he denies), and he has other health issues as well. Walking on eggshells was a daily task as well. I pray you get to a place where you can distinguish his abusiveness apart from his ASD. You will learn a lot reading here at ACFJ! This blog has been so helpful to me and I pray it will be for you as well!

  8. nojustice justus

    Thank you all for replying, it definitely helps to know I am not the only one who has gone through this. I’m so sorry for your experiences Barbara and Miss Me. I’m very glad you managed to get away and very grateful to read your stories as well and gather strength from them. As Barbara and others have pointed out, I still don’t think it’s the ASD that causes the abuse, or else how do we account for people with ASD who aren’t abusive and people who are abusive but don’t have ASD? But I have learned that one of the problems for a partner of someone with ASD who is also abusive is that he may be so used to being judged and rejected because of his differences that when you try to draw a boundary about what is unacceptable in YOUR relationship he may dismiss your words because he assumes you are coming from a judgmental place or that, just like people in his past, you don’t want to understand him, or you could put up with things if only you were willing to try harder or, like my ex, he assumes that because you don’t have ASD it’s “easy” for you to change your own behavior. Even if that was true, you don’t have to change your behavior to accept abuse and you get to decide what risks you are willing to take with your life and just say no, I’m not going to risk anything else, I don’t have anything else to give.

    So I think it’s very important [but very difficult] to separate the behaviors from the condition itself and be clear about that. For example, I tried very hard to communicate this and be clear in my own mind and say things like “[verbal abuse/throwing things/extreme inflexibility/etc] is unacceptable BECAUSE it is
    [disrespectful/dangerous/makes me afraid/etc] and it would still be wrong if I did that to you and it would still be wrong if someone who doesn’t have ASD did it.” So you need to work hard to not fall into the trap of thinking, “if I don’t put up with his behavior it must be because I’m intolerant, I don’t want to be like the people who discriminate against him, so I have to put up with this.” No. Some things are just wrong and a person’s mental health issues or other struggles do not excuse them. I’m sure if we looked hard enough at our own lives we would all have an issue or something we struggle with that makes it hard to respect others, but regardless of that we are still obligated to respect others and your partner is still obligated to respect you.

    ASD does seem to create many problems with understanding others and being understood and this can really lead to deep frustration and anger, which may lead to abuse, especially to partners and family members. As Miss Me has said, people with ASD can be empathic, sometimes very empathic and sensitive to issues of fairness and justice, so it’s a myth that they can’t empathise. But it seems like lot of people with ASD are socially isolated and find it hard to be in social situations so if you are their partner you will be the one they vent their frustrations on and take the brunt of that. What this really shows me, and what I really hope others who are still in similar situations and reading this now can see, is that ASD can manifest itself in a lot of different ways and it can be hard to untangle the symptoms from the abuse, but it does not give anyone a free pass to be abusive and it does not mean that you, as the partner, need accept it or put up wit it. One thing that really helped me was a mental exercise where I said to myself: “Imagine if one of my female relatives or close friends was being treated this way by her partner, would I say that was OK? Would I accept what just happened to me if I saw it happen to someone I love? Or a stranger on the street? No, I would be very worried for her safety and say the abuse has to stop and it has to be addressed. Then why do I accept it just because it’s happening to me? If I believe everyone deserves to be respected, I need to see that I deserve to be respected too.”

    I also think it’s having a community and family around you that [at least ideally] is what allows people to check their behavior against what is generally acceptable to others and
    makes it harder to “get away with” abusive behavior. So this makes it harder when ASD is involved, because as I said above, from what I have experienced and read, people with ASD can often only stand to be around or be close to a very small number of people. But what I am learning from this site is that sometimes the surrounding community actually reinforces that the abusive behavior is acceptable, and that leads to the victim/survivor blaming themselves and “normalising” the abuse. My ex and I were not part of a church community [we are not in the US] but we were part of a social group where bullying and denial of even extreme and obvious abuse were common and the expectation was that people would keep it quiet and “deal with it” inside the group. Involving “outsiders” or standing up to it openly especially would lead to the victim being mobbed and pressured to deal with it via meetings or mediation often run by people who themselves had a history of abuse or covering up abuse. This made it a lot harder to leave, because I knew that if I spoke out I would most likely be the one who was rejected and criticised. But in the end, I just decided I had to leave no matter what and I would rather be sad and lonely in a place of safety and stability than constantly afraid and walking on eggshells.

    I actually was brought up in a church, although it was a pretty liberal one [which is more common in my country] but I was taught how to pray and about all the ethical and moral rules. It was during the worst times in my relationship that I started praying again, which is something that is generally not understood and looked down on in my ex & my social group, but it really did provide me with a lot of comfort and the strength to leave. I don’t remember where it says it in the bible, but there’s a verse somewhere in which Jesus says “whatever you do to the least of my people, you are doing to me.” I understand this to mean that violence and domestic abuse is unacceptable no matter who the victim is and if there is a big difference in the amount of social power and status between the victim and the abuser, as there was with my ex and myself, that makes it even less excusable. I can’t really talk too much about theology because I know I’m pretty ignorant about it but I suspect that like me a lot of people found this site by googling “domestic violence and autism” and I think resources like this that allows victims to tell their stories in a safe place and realise they are not alone are extremely important and do make a real difference.

    So what I would say to other people who are in a similar situation is: use every resource that you have available to find the strength to do whatever it takes to be safe, including praying if that’s something that makes sense to you, try to build a support network of family or community around you, if you decide to get couples counseling, which can be very helpful because dealing with these things is very traumatic and there’s nothing wrong with needing help, please make sure it’s someone you trust and who won’t put pressure on you while you are vulnerable, if you can have your own counselor too or call a women’s domestic violence line, and a good support network of people you can trust around. This isn’t easy to find, because abuse can make it so hard to trust, but for me individual counseling really helped to break myself out of my own denial and the feeling that I deserve the abuse and that love requires me to be constantly prove that I can put up with abuse unconditionally and live in unstable and unsafe situations.

    If you are in a similar situation I also want to suggest something else that really helped me, which was keeping a diary of things that happened between my ex and myself and
    how I felt about them. It helped because with someone with ASD, the abuse can be quite bizarre and confusing, often it’s things that you would never expect to deal with in a
    relationship, like your partner having an extreme meltdown because a very minor thing in their environment is “different” or “not right” or unexpected – this is part of ASD, even a tiny change has the potential to send someone spiraling out of control and taking out their fear and frustration on you in ways that are very confusing and scary. So it’s easy to get in a situation where you are constantly walking on eggshells and devoting most of your energy into “keeping the peace” or “following their rules” that you don’t have the time to realise [and it’s not safe to express] that you are being abused. Keeping a diary helped me a lot and may help you, because you can just write down a few lines, like: “today [minor change in routine] caused [extreme temper tantrum] and I felt [scared/unsafe/depressed/etc.]”

    You can also write other things that you may not identify as abusive at the time, but do create a climate in your relationship that makes abuse acceptable or send the message that things that happen to you or your feelings really don’t matter. For example: “today I told him about [something traumatic I witnessed in public] and he [laughed at me and joked about it] and this made me feel [disrespected/confused/hurt/angry.]” To be very clear, this is not a tactic to help you anticipate and adapt to your partners demands and to avoid abuse – if you are in an abusive relationship and your partner also has ASD, you could be the most “perfect” partner in the world, you could twist yourself into knots [as I did] trying to adapt to their needs and anticipate everything and something very minor that you can never control can still trigger abuse or situations where you are really afraid. I think the point of keeping a diary is to have a place where your feelings matter and are validated, even if only for you, and over time maybe you, like me, will look back on what you wrote and see that there are so many incidents and no matter how patient and understanding you are, they still keep happening and as long as this person is your partner, you can’t avoid being abused and feeling afraid.

    It’s also a way to document and “prove” to yourself what has been going on, because I think there is an issue with ASD [at least in my situation, I don’t want to generalise or
    stigmatise people with ASD] where once the person has calmed down and feels “in control” again, it’s like the abuse never happened and you can be left asking yourself “did I just imagine that? Is there something wrong with me? Why do I still feel so upset and so unsafe when he is acting like everything is fine?” I guess this is the “honeymoon period” that people say is common in many abusive relationships, but I think it can be even more extreme when ASD is involved, because routine and “getting back to normal” is so important and the periods of feeling “out of control” can be triggered so often and by such minor things.

    About the routine and inflexible behavior: I have read some things that Dr Tony Attwood has written that make me believe this can be a central part of ASD, I am sure that some couples can find healthy and safe ways to deal with it, but I think it can lead to very controlling and abusive behavior. The thing to remember is it may be something your partner will always struggle with, but you didn’t cause it, you are not responsible for it and you don’t deserve be the one to take the brunt of it or have your partner constantly vent their frustrations on you. My ex told me that one way he deals with the uncontrollable feelings that go on inside him is by creating routines that have to be followed so rigidly and “to the letter” that they made him feel like his environment was predictable and under his control. At the time I tried hard to understand and respect this, because I intuitively recognised that it was something he had learned as a child and was an important survival mechanism to help him get through his life. But it does not necessarily follow and in fact is very unreasonable to say that this means I should be punished for not following his routines to the letter or for things in everyday life that I could not possibly control being “different” or changing.

    But another thing I learned is that ASD has it’s own sort of internal “logic” and even though I could explain these things clearly and calmly to him, and when he was calm he would say he understood and promise to change, when something triggered him or he became upset because something in his environment wasn’t “right” he would almost always go back to the coping behaviors he had been using all his life, which was to withdraw into depression and talk about what a bad person he was and how hopeless life is [I think maybe this comforted him in a way, because he could convince himself that even if things were terrible, they were predictable] and to lash out at me to vent his frustration and anger. I don’t know for sure but I suspect this is why some people with ASD can only tolerate a really restrictive diet, because new foods are experienced as something scary that the can’t control. This may also relate to what Miss Me has said about the literature that says people with ASD not liking sex or being touched, because it can spontaneously create really strong, unpredictable emotions and physical sensations that may be interpreted as scary or threatening and lead to meltdowns. I don’t think this manifests in the same way for everyone who has ASD but I think this can lead to abusive situations where the partner tries to control every single aspect of the other persons behavior, and even sex and their partner’s body language have to be completely under their control or they will react in an extreme way. Like Barbara I also had incidents where my partner would try to police and control my body language. I remember many times when he would accuse me of feeling negative emotions about him when I was just tired or even when I looked away from him during a conversation. Also the reverse, like really difficult and unsafe situations where he would tell me very disturbing or upsetting things, like unethical or violent things he had done, in a very “numb” and unemotional manner and if I reacted in [what I now know is] a reasonable way, by being honest that those things upset me and clashed with my own ethical beliefs, he would become very frustrated or depressed and vent that on me verbally or by storming off, slamming around the house etc.

    Something useful to read about this is what Tony Attwood calls “catastrophising” and “universalising” [you can google that + his name], where for someone with ASD, if one thing in their immediate environment is not perfect, or what they expect or what they are used being able to control is different, they can interpret it to mean that EVERYTHING is wrong or dangerous and have a meltdown. I believe there are ways that a person can learn to deal with this, and it helped me a bit to know that it wasn’t something I was causing but something my ex would have to deal with whether I was in his life or not, but
    if this is something that happens in your relationship and it makes you feel afraid or puts you or your children in danger, that is abuse, it’s still unacceptable and you have to deal with the behavior and address the impact it has on you and/or your kids, regardless of the cause.

    The last thing I want to say is based on my experience, I really agree with and want to emphasise what the others have said and in general on this site about responsibility. It is your partners responsibility to acknowledge their behavior and address and change it. It’s your responsibility to be honest about how what they do effects your life, if you feel that it won’t endanger you or others more to speak up. But I don’t believe it’s your responsibility to put up with abuse. I think therapy can really help, but unless your partner is willing to do a lot of really hard and serious work and basically make anger management, communicating respectfully and impulse control a major, if not THE major goal in their life, and take responsibility to keep working on it for the rest of their lives, not just as a short term solution to stop you from leaving, the abuse probably won’t stop. Change in general and especially changing their own behavior is something people with ASD seem to find a lot more scary and difficult than the rest of the population, I would never say someone was incapable of changing and taking responsibility because of a mental health condition, I know that they can, but you have to be realistic about how hard it is and how long it takes and most of all that it is THEIR responsibility and they have to really want to change. And as I said above, you have to ask yourself honestly, can I keep living like this for another year, or 2 years, or 5 years or longer? It’s not an easy question to answer, but if you are already in an abusive and unsafe situation, you have think very carefully, as I had to, about whether your patience is actually dangerous for you and your children or other people in your life.

    Most of all you have to be gentle with yourself and forgiving towards yourself, try not to beat yourself up about not being a “perfect” partner – believe me, even if that was possible if someone is going to abuse you they will still find something to criticise about you to excuse their behavior. And try not to blame yourself for not having the foresight to predict what would happen. You tried as hard as you could, you probably gave more and sacrificed more than was almost humanly possible, but the important thing now is that you are looking clearly at your relationship and recognise it as abusive or controlling and unsustainable and it’s not to late to make a change. Please don’t beat yourself up for not trying hard enough or not or being “strong” enough to deal with the abuse. We are loving people, we are naturally equipped for loving and respectful relationships, not for abusive and disrespectful ones. Sometimes leaving an abusive
    relationship is the strong and loving thing to do. You can heal from a situation like this and leaving does not mean you are weak or unloving. But if you are simultaneously
    blaming yourself and beating yourself up it can take a lot longer to process the emotions and make it even harder to heal, so just try to treat yourself gently.

    Thanks again for providing this space, I hope I have been able to help someone and I know that reading your stories has been very helpful for me. I hope I haven’t unintentionally reinforced any myths about ASD or made anyone think that I believe people with ASD are inherently violent, because I don’t believe this. Something one of my friends told me is that people with ASD are dozens of times more likely to be the victim of violence than to be violent themselves. I don’t know if this is true or not, if it is I suspect it may have something to do with people who have mental health issues being more likely to be homeless, and if that’s the case there are some very disturbing implications for our society and the cycle of violence where people who have been abused go on to model that behavior, but as I said, I don’t think anyone has a free pass to be abusive and you do NOT have to put up with it.

    • Wow Justus, thank you! You have spoken so many truths here, and been careful to qualify when it is your experience that may not apply to others. I greatly admire you for learning so much about both ASD and Abuse, and for explaining what you’ve learned so clearly. A very great deal of what you say, the advice you give, would be helpful for ANY victim of abuse, whether or not their partner also was ASD. I really like the way you’ve put things. Thanks for contributing your wisdom to our blog, and I hope you continue to come and to share.

  9. For those who may be interested, a few comments have been made about ASD in the discussion flowing from our post Abuse and Empathy. If you click here you will be taken to the first of those comments on that other thread, and you can read on then to find the other comments that mention ASD.

    • Jean

      I’m late to this conversation, but I want to add my own experience. ASD is NOT a cause for abuse. I have been happily married to an Aspie for 8 years.

      There are some ways that I have had to adapt my expectations to work with him. Learning to communicate is key. We have had to work really hard at respectfully communicating our expectations/needs/wants to each other. Early in our relationship, I implemented a rule for myself which my husband says is a big relief to him: “I will clearly state all expectations before I hold him accountable for them.” In practical terms, this means, if I want roses for Valentine’s day…I tell him. If I expect the trash to be rolled out to the curb once a week – I tell him. If I need some space after a long day of work – I tell him. This takes the stress of guesswork away from him. He spends all day on high alert interpreting the people around him at work – and our home (for the most part) can be a place of peace where the expectations are articulated and he doesn’t get ‘in trouble’ for not picking up on indirect cues. It doesn’t make for surprise moonlit dates, but it does make for a relatively stable environment.

      He does not use his ‘blind spots’ as excuses for hurtful behavior. He is thoroughly engaged in trying to understand me (and now our son) to the best of his ability. He is invested in our well-being and makes it his responsibility to bring us stability and connection. I appreciate this so much more because I know connection doesn’t come naturally to him – he has to work at it. His approach is almost scientific, and he is always making mental notes about what helps us to feel loved so that he can produce more of it.

      Being on the spectrum is not a pass for personal responsibility. Your partner must be actively engaged in understanding and meeting your wants and needs, as well as articulating their wants and needs in a respectful way. Your partner must be willing to admit when they are wrong and work on changing their behavior. Your partner is not a victim of ASD and it does not give them a ‘get out of jail free’ card to excuse hurtful actions.

  10. cheryl higgins

    Thanks Barbara. I found the blog again!
    My husbands family (in particular a second cousin and his wife) are trying to pressure me into giving him one last chance as a Christian. His family haven’t even asked how i am or the children in twelve weeks. Trouble is how many chances should I give him? There have been no signs of change whatsoever during this time despite seeing various people for help. His attitude hasn’t changed one bit. He keeps being holier than thou and quoting scripture at me and telling me that God is taking me through this time to refine me! So i quoted back at him just one time about a husband should be gentle with his wife and not harsh. His response was that he hasn’t been harsh enough with me and the children and that God is showing him that he has to be and can i see the difference! That really did it for me. Just shows his heart. and lack of responsibility for the way he has treated us. He is still saying things to the children which upset them as he is so blunt and doesn’t understand that they are hurtful and even when told wont accept that he has upset them, or me come to that. it is so frustrating living with someone who wont accept when they have done something to offend you which is why things are a lot calmer now he isn’t living with us.
    Can you believe it, my husband last week also suggested we have a baby!! He is emotionally blackmailing me as i always wanted a third child years ago but he’s 50 and i’m 44, and i certainly wouldn’t consider it under these circumstances either in. He’s clutching at straws. A baby might give a connection at first but then he would slip back into old ways and cause more stress and pressure that he wouldn’t be able to cope with. Besides he’s always worried/stressed about money and the fact we can’t afford anything so how could he possibly think another baby would put things right?
    I’ve got the divorce papers… but something just keeps stopping me from finally putting them into our local court… maybe I’m scared as its no going back….

    • Still scared

      Cheryl, so scared for you. The confusion. Praying for you.

    • Cheryl, I am confident you will make the decisions you need to make at the right time. Sometimes we don’t know what is holding us back, until it lifts, and then we realise what the mental/spiritual/practical block was.

      It’s like a log jam. When the critical log in the river moves, all the other logs become unjammed and the whole lot start to move downstream again. While it’s jammed, you wait. Maybe you go out there with your big prong and see if you can get one of the critical logs to move. But maybe you just sit on the riverside and wait till the water level rises a bit and perhaps that will get the logs start moving again.

      God companions and helps us every step of the way.

    • Jeff S

      Cheryl, Barbara’s words are so good here. Just please don’t judge yourself for being jammed. This is a hard process.

  11. Cheryl

    Thanks guys. Much appreciated. Had another hard day today when my husband arrived to pick up the guinea pigs i was looking after for him, so going to the solicitors tomorrow to start proceedings for an injunction against him. He was so horrible to my daughter and told her she was low priority, bottom of the lost, he said i am top priority. He also told her it is her who has caused all these problems. How awful to say that to a child. I was so upset and told him to leave. My daughter took his arm gently and he flung her arm off him saying dont touch my arm. He is so mean… He also threatened that if i proceed to divorce he will do all her can to get them taken away from me. He keeps sending me holier than thou emails about Gods love for me and how God wants to change me and i need to put God as my priority in my life then everything will fall into place. Blooming cheek he has. He’s the last person qualified to tell me that. I’ve only stuck with him for so long because of my deep faith and not wanting to displease God in divorcing.
    Anyway, long journey to go yet, but i will get there with God’s strength.
    Thanks again – you are all so understanding on this blog/site. God bless.

  12. Cheryl

    Sorry, I meant bottom of the list! She only asked him to buy her some revision guides. She doesn’t ask for much. He’s spending money on going abroad next week and also gets a christmas bonus. You’d think he’s buy her some revision guides. She hasn’t asked for concert tickets or something social.

    • Yeah, that’s exactly how abuser’s often behave. How they can pack so many different barbs into such ‘small’ packages of communication or interaction never ceases to amaze me.
      The image I think of is cluster bombs.

  13. Cheryl

    Sounds about right. I feel like I’m in the Lord of the Rings in the silver chair in the valley with the giants pelting stones at me.Just need to keep walking….and trusting despite the situation but its more easily said than done.
    I do feel at the moment as if my husband the perpetrator is getting more support than me the victim. He has gone to Europe to get some counselling offered free by a church.the church he is going to are helping him a lot. His mum and family aren’t speaking to me. even his relatives are telling me i’m wrong to even think of divorcing.
    None of his family have called to ask me how i am despite their son beating me up and thumping in the head in front of their grandchildren. When the children were little my daughter asked me if daddy would kill me. How sad is that?
    My church only help me if i ask or if i email an update otherwise they don’t bother to call or help me in any way. When i shared that i felt lonely at a church weekend away as everyone was in groups i was accused of being introspective! I do chat and can have a laugh with people but can also be quite shy if everyone seems to be in groups chatting, its very hard just to break in to these groups. No one seems to really care to be honest although they might say they do. I have hardly any friends around here and those i thought were my friends rarely call me to see how I am. My family don’t live near and my dad is disabled anyway in a wheelchair so can’t do much to help.
    Why should i the victim keep asking for help? Everyone seems to shun me for some reason… and i am trying to keep strong and this doesn’t help. The couple i used to go and pray with shunned me. What have i done that’s so bad? I was the one that got beaten up and hurt. Just because i want separation now and potentially divorce people are shunning me. I don’t think i look depressed or anything and i’m carrying on working etc so i don’t think i come across as being negative all the time so why are people avoiding me? I really want to come alongside other woman who are going through what i am as i don’t want anyone to feel isolated and feel the way i do.
    Is this the experience of other victims of domestic violence or perhaps i am over reacting and its just everyone else is wrapped up in their own little worlds they’re too busy to concern themselves about me. Perhaps my expectations are too high?

    • Jeff S

      “When i shared that i felt lonely at a church weekend away as everyone was in groups i was accused of being introspective! I do chat and can have a laugh with people but can also be quite shy if everyone seems to be in groups chatting, its very hard just to break in to these groups. No one seems to really care to be honest although they might say they do.”

      I’m assuming you meant “introverted” here– if so I got that same stuff. Apparently it’s ok to not love introverted people because they are more difficult. Well, I get it. I mean in normal situations it does take a little operating against type for introverts to plug in. The church should do whatever it can, but certainly an introvert can’t expect others to make up all the slack. I know this becuse I am shy and an introvert myself in social settings (like church).

      But this isn’t a normal case. When someone is being oppressed in her home, the church needs to understand it has the responsibility to do all the effort. There’s no excuse for an oppressed person to walk in the doors of the church and not feel loved. And when that person says so (stepping out of their introverted shell) accusing them of being introverted just makes them step back in.

      I got this myself. I was the music leader, so everyone knew me. They all knew I was married but came alone and sat alone almost every Sunday. Yes, when people asked about my wife I made excuses for her. And in the end, that’s what they told me: “We didn’t know things were so bad– you always told us it was fine. And you just always kept to yourself.” But the one couple who really got to know me, they knew. They were not surprised when everything hit.

      We have to stop blaming the victim and realizing that sticking to our own problems in the church is not enough. “But she was an introvert” is not good enough. Can you imagine saying that on the day of judgement?

    • Dear Cheryl, your expectations are not too high. Not at all. You are being unfairly judged, maligned, slandered, shunned, condemned and blamed by the church and your husband’s family. You are not alone in this experience, it is the same as what most of the rest of us on this blog have experienced. We support and believe you. You have done nothing wrong; but they will make out that your are wrong whatever you do. It is bias towards the abuser who is so clever at enlisting allies with his pitiful story (which is lies and half-truths that equate to lies).

      I think you will find it helpful and encouraging if you read some of our other posts on this blog. You might like to start with the current one: Challenging the No Divorce for Abuse Fortress Which Has Been Raised Up Against the Knowledge of God.

    • Little Miss Me

      Cheryl –

      I know how you feel. It’s tough just knowing how to act, make friends, connect with people when you’ve been treated badly for so long. It’s worse when others don’t make some effort or don’t respect/understand when you say it’s difficult by making it more difficult.

      I was fortunate enough to find one friend who had been there before. I didn’t really know what she’d been through but somehow I knew she was a good person to talk to, and I stuck my neck out there to test the waters at first. She read me very quickly and it was such a relief to find someone in person who could support me. Just one person who really knows that it really IS that bad, I’m not exaggerating, and who was on the other side was such a blessing!

      Do you know anyone who is divorced? Could you talk to them about just one part of it – I initially talked to my friend about how she dealt with custody issues before I revealed the trouble in my marriage. Are there any support groups in your area that you could attend? A support group might be good for you if you’re not super talkative, because they shouldn’t expect you to talk unless you’re ready.

  14. Cheryl

    Thanks so much for the advice. No, i don’t really know anyone who is divorced who has gone through what i am going through. There must be in the church but i don’t personally know of anyone.I know of people but noone has offered to help apart from pray! I’d love to come across someone! I could look at support groups, I don’t know what is around, I thought that woman’s aid might be more helpful in suggesting things like that.

    • Yes, Women’s Aid would definitely be able to tell you about support groups in your area. In my time I’ve taken part in two face to face support groups for survivors of DV, and one parenting program for survivors of DV. All were very helpful.

  15. Cheryl

    Thanks guys. It wasn’t introverted as i’m definately not a complete introvert as i love being with other people. It was introspective. I think perhaps he thought i was looking too much into it or looking for things which weren’t really true. The woman’s aid have been in touch but haven’t suggested any groups but i will check again. Trouble is my situation is more complex since it involves aspergers and i would also want to be helping all the poor people there rather than focusing on my needs!! My husband is in complete denial of our relationship breakdown and thinks in time i will get back with him. He invited me to some work event after Christmas, and has brought me a special christmas present ( i think an eternity ring as i said i always wanted one in previous years) i don’t want presents now as he never bothered before much (i got a doormat one christmas!) and its really too late now. what i want is to be treated with some respect and consideration and also the children. After all i devoted 18yrs to this man and his children! Even my daughter said I don’t know how i am related to you, and we dont want presents, we just want you to be nice to us. How heart breaking is that, yet he still doesnt get it. When i was trying to talk to him about the legal side of things he just said I dont need solicitors, i just need advice from God and the Bible is my lawbook. the sooner you realise that too the better. I am completely innocent of everything! He thinks he is above the law and he says he wont get a solicitor or have anything to do with the courts. I think the realisation will only hit him when he receives the divorce papers. At least i hope so. it’s true that the abuser is clever at manipulating and getting others to think that he is the victim. My husband has far more supporters than i do and received counselling abroad and more….
    Just getting tired in dealing with the constant weekly emotional stuff he chucks at his children and me. He has threatened to take the children from me and get custody. He is kidding himself really and that’s when he said he is innocent! My two children have seen enough to witness about him to the courts if need be. Also another friend has seen him get extremely angry at her so there’s no way he would get custody, and he has two police cautions.
    I just have to continue to believe that God knows the truth and that he will make the paths right for me, and i have to trust him in this and only rely on him for my strength and support.

  16. Cheryl

    Oh boy – my husband has been kicked out of his mums and step-dads and came home. Unfortunately I could do nothing as he has keys, still paying the mortgage and bills.
    He is claiming he should have stayed here in the first place and i should have gone.
    I am walking on eggshells again despite him saying he has changed as he has been prayed for and released. He says he has changed but there has been no evidence in the last four months. I am worried as i am continuing down the legal route with divorce. He doesn’t believe that legal divorce is really a divorce and he claims he will be my husband for life whether i like it or not till i die or he dies. he is in the spare bedroom but i am concerned he wont go. He is looking for alternative accommodation loosely but still saying he will stay here. I’m not happy about it whatsoever and feel on edge all the time as i have no privacy now and he can be so unpredictable. He has developed a spiritual mania which manifests in Jeff telling everyone they are walking in darkness and Jesus is coming soon so repent and turn to God. I am a strong Christian but he is putting everyone off Christianity by doing this. He said i don’t care what other people think as Jesus didn’t and wasn’t popular! He has an answer for everything. I am concerned he will stay as long as it takes to go through divorce and as it gets stressful he may get violent or abusive again. His vicar and my pastor are communicating so they know the situation. I am getting more support now from the church and they are being fab now.

    • Cheryl, there may be laws where you are that would enable you to have him put out of the home, under a protection order by the court. Have you considered getting advice from a Domestic Violence Support Service? They should be able to advise you about what options you have. It does sound like you are scared of what he might do to you, based on how he has treated you in the past, and that ought to be grounds for a protection order (it is where I live, at least). I would not believe for a momnent that he is seriously looking for alternative accommodation: he’s almost certainly saying that just to appease you. You are right to think he has not really changed. From what you’ve described there is no evidence of genuine repentance on his part, only evidence of him trying to lie, manipulate, be a chameleon, put on a spiritual persona, and all the other tricks he thinks might help him get away with continuing to abuse you and live his life of entitlement just the same as before. Moving the deck chairs on the Titanic does not stop the ship from going down.

      • Cheryl

        Yes, but they haven#t been much help, they just do a risk assessment and call every few weeks. I could get a restraint order but it cost thousands which i haven’t got and i#m not entitled to legal aid. Too much money in the house. He’s settled himself very much into the spare room and sees this as his chance to be with his family and try to restore the relationship. he’s booked counselling and is being seen to do the right thing but his attitudes are still the same, his entitlement and controlling behaviour. He’s now got into trouble with work and been advised to be off for a while. GP has signed him off with stress. Its more stressful for me having him at home 24/7 though! He has shown his anger in front of two ministers now and still thinks it was mild annoyance. I’m not sure if he lacks self awareness of how he comes across.He’s telling my minister he needs to repent and rebuked for his beliefs. He says its his job to rebuke people especially leaders who are leading people in a non biblical way. (I don’t believe my minister is misleading people). He has called him the devil incarnate and all sorts. He just doesn’t know how to put his opinions across in the right way. So frustrating when i have to listen to this every day though

      • That sounds tough, Cheryl. Having the abuser round 24/7 is often (always?) a lot more difficult for the victim.

        Maybe you can persuade those ministers to order him to move out of your house? Big ask, I know, but it sounds like there might be wriggle room there, to get them to be more proactive in working for your protection.

    • Still Scared( but getting angry)

      Cheryl, sounds like my ex. 17 years, he bought me extravagant Christmas gifts the first time ever in our marriage the first year we were separated, quoted scripture but didn’t live it out in actions. Ugh! Sorry for you. I am so glad I never let mine move back in. He tried one time and I had to call 911 and because he raised his fist I was able to get a protective order. ( He had tried repeatedly before then to come up with a reason he had to move back in. I just kept saying no..first really good boundary I remember keeping with him)

      • Cheryl

        Yeah they’re always nice until they win you over. Once you belong to them things change. I cant do much to get him out to be honest. He’s in the spare room. Restraint orders are expensive and don’t always get agreed. He’s driving me up the wall but i’m doing well as i’m not reacting to all his super spiritual talk and critical attitude. He hasn’t been physically abusive yet but has been verbally. If he does he will be arrested and charged this time and wont be allowed anywhere near us.

      • Sounds like you have a good mental boundaries in place, even if you haven’t get obtained all the physical boundaries and distance you might want. Well done, Cheryl. I’ll be praying for the situation, and for your safety and recovery.

  17. Michele

    My Aspie is out of the house on a protective restraint order against me and the kids. He shoved me down to the ground in front of them. I had him arrested. I filed divorce. We have been married 19 years. Together 25. He gets depression seasonal especially holidays. His temper was always explosive but then calm for awhile. He wants us back. Regrets what he did. Is on meds again. A lot of verbal and mental abuse. Called me names daily that were ugly, I have an Aspie son who acts just like him but is more talkative and sensitive. 4 kids, the oldest girl seems anxiety impulsive. Tried to kill herself after got caught doing drugs. The second girl is very worried and anxious. The littlest girl is imitating the Aspie son so sometimes says and does bad stuff. I just know he was a good dad and provider. I hate to lose our family. He is begging for counseling, although he didn’t go before. I am feeling bad for him since we are his everything……….help? Can it get better?

    • Sadly I don’t have much good news for you, Michele. The begging for counseling is something many abusers do when their victim has set down firm boundaries as a result of the abuse. It is a ploy to make you change your mind and drop your boundaries, not a real intention to change himself and his underlying attitudes of entitlement and his belief in his superiority and his right to mistreat others – particularly his intimate partner. The abuse is rooted in his attitudes and beliefs, not his ASD. In other words, he is an abuser. He also has ASD. To stop being an abuser he has to stop being an abuser, and most abusers don’t change. They don’t want to, they just want to keep using others for their own purposes, they don’t want any really respectful, mutual, caring relationship.

      Your feeling bad is also very typical for victims of abuse at this stage of the journey. I suggest you remind yourself over and over that it is not your fault, you are not to blame, you did not cause him to abuse you, it is HIS CHOICE to be abusive. And he is currently still being abusive, not by physically assaulting you or terrorising you with his rages, but by playing up his ‘pain’ and ‘how much he needs you’.
      These are just more tactics of abuse: he is trying to manipulate you by making you feel sorry for him and making you believe he is really in pain and only YOU can fix it. I have news for you. He is not in real pain. It is all a performance to emotionally blackmail you. That may sound harsh and black and white, but believe me, this is what abusers do and the pattern is very similar across all of them. Abusers do not have consciences, or if they have any small amount of conscience it is very impaired, defective and (as the Bible says) ‘seared.’ They do not feel empathy for the pain and suffering they cause to others. They want you to pay attention to their ‘pain’ to draw your compassion to them and suck you in again. But the abuser’s problem is not in his feelings (his pain) it is in his thinking and his beliefs. He wants you to focus on his ‘pain’ because that is NOT the source of the problem. The more he can get people to focus on his so-called pain, the less likely it is that the spotlight will be directed to the abuser’s distorted thinking and beliefs. In other words, he’s deliberately engaging in responsibility avoidance; and playing a game of smoke and mirrors.

      I strongly suggest you read Lundy Bancroft’s book that we mention on our Resources Page (see the top menu of this blog). And other books there like George Simon Junior’s books.

      Thanks for commenting here, and we hope to hear from you again.

      One more thing: I know leaving a relationship is very hard to do, especially when you are leaving an abuser. But in the long run, if you leave him you will probably be able to give your children an environment where you will have a better chance of influencing their character development to weed out the negative things they’ve picked up from your husband, and the less-than-healthy patterns they have adopted in responding to that abusive, scary environment (like illicit drug use). Check out this link: Family Violence Hurst Kids Too
      (((Hugs))) to you.

  18. Cheryl

    Thanks Barbara, i appreciate your prayers and support so much. The ministers have tried but he won’t listen to them any more. It’s all down to waiting for the divorce and financial settlement which could take months (unless he is physically abusive in the meantime which i don’t think he will be as he is being careful now although still getting angry).I think mentally i am blocking all his comments etc out as i know it wont be forever that i am with him so its easier to do that. I am just communicating on a very basic level which is the only way it is working for me.

  19. MissM

    I just found this thread and am so grateful. I was violently abused–tortured I would say, imprisoned, starved and sexually assaulted by my partner for over a year. He definitely had ASD, he was diagnosed. And the worst of it was his “meltdowns”. He would have them about any little thing. At first I thought that if I could predict them and change things in time I could avoid them. But the pattern, although clear to him, was random to me. He would start hitting himself int he face, breaking things, Once he even broke his own nose. When he was like this nothing could stop him. If I tried to restrain him so he wouldn’t hurt himself or break my things he would hit me–badly. If I tried to get to the phone he would go wild. When he “came out of it” and saw the wreckage he had caused he would demand that I clean it up, replace everything (I spent over $50,000 on his demands in one year to avoid these melt downs. He has a very high IQ, and I was terrified of him. He was always smarter than me and I knew if I left him he would kill me. I was finally able to get away, get the police involved. But I have been having a hard time understanding what happened to me. I could never learn his patterns or what would give him these “meltdowns”–he did look like an autistic child when having them, just lashing out at everything, hitting his head. But most of what I can find online just says that most people with ASD are not violent. I know that most people are not this way, but I do believe that this torture was partially linked to his disorder. For example if I needed to leave for work but that would somehow disrupt the schedule he had made up eh would have one of these meltdowns and I couldn’t go to work. This is how I ended up being starved, etc. He would sometimes have these episodes for hours (I recall one that went over 12 hours) and if I got up to get water or anything it would get worse. I ended up losing about 1/3 of my bodyweight just from stress. He would not let me sleep except when it fit his schedule. It was torture. And it was at least partially related to his disorder. (I understand that most people do not manifest it this way). But I have literally found no information on this. It makes sense to me–I have seen autistic children hurt themselves and their parents in this same way. What happens when they get too big to be restrained by a parent–what happens if they never learn social skills. What happened to me I guess. My ex had very bad parenting. Most of the time he could be very sweet and was very smart and good to talk to. But his rigid patterns (Maybe he also had OCD?) and the tantrums nearly killed me. He pushed me down stairs, broke my fingers, hit me over and over. He would punch hole in the wall, break glasses, even if he hurt himself he wouldn’t stop–it wouldn’t even give him pause. Usually it would just get worse. I have not felt like anyone believes me or understands what happened (I don’t). Until I found this thread I had not heard this sort of thing from anyone. Please does anyone know of any information(I am in the field of psychology, and I can’t even find any articles on this). I am just trying to understand what happened to me and how the disorder fit in, but whenever I bring it up people just say: well most with ASD are not like this and his disorder didn’t make him do that. Yes, I know. I just want more information to understand the various factors which contributed.

    • Dear MissM, thank you so much for sharing your story. The torture and fear and desperation you must have suffered! It sounds like it was almost a miracle that you got out. I wish I could offer you something more specific to help you understand the various factors which contributed to your ex’s behavior, but I am not equipped to do so. But from my non-professional perspective, it sounds like your ex had the mentality and entitlement thinking of an abuser — that is the bottom-line — and that perhaps he used his ASD characteristics (the need for predictability and routine) as an excuse for his meltdowns, and the way he chose to behave during these highly abusive episodes was patterned on and conditioned by his ASD-ness. A little like an abuser who is also a drunkard using his drunkenness as a license to launch into a full-blown abusive episode.

      Perhaps your abuser used his ASD as a license to launch into his highly abusive episodes (the ‘meltdowns’), and when he was expressing that abuse his expression of it was conditioned by (filtered through) his ASD characteristics: his need for predictability, regularity, schedule, routine, ritual, etc.

      Dr George Simon Jr may be able to shed some light on your questions; he is a psychologist who has written a few guest posts for our blog and we have his blog on our BlogRoll (see the sidebar of this blog).

  20. I’ve thought long and hard about how to best comment on this, especially in view of the other comments made and stories that have been shared. First, it’s important to reiterate that plenty of folks with ASD (and folks with OCD for that matter) do not abuse. And although there’s a common tendency to ascribe the “causes” for someone’s behavior to their psychiatric diagnoses (both known and unknown) the fact is that there are very few psychiatric conditions that in and of themselves are responsible for someone’s dysfunction. Rather, most of the time, the labels professionals apply only serve to categorize dysfunctional behavior that is fully under a person’s ability to control. That’s why it’s extremely disempowering and ultimately, non self-loving, to be so invested in “understanding” the “causes” of someone’s behavior. Most of us tend to do it because we want to make some rational sense of what appears so irrational to us. And we also do it because we want to believe that but for their “illness” the person we care about wouldn’t do the horrible things they do. And while the aforementioned is true in very rare cases of severed mental illness (e.g., when someone is in the throes of a psychosis), most of the time, behavior is purposeful, goal-directed, and capable of being controlled. And as adults, regardless of our handicapping conditions, we have a responsibility to exercise that control.

    It’s absolutely classic that after an “episode,” the person responsible would demand that the victim clean up the mess. Character-impaired people know all too well how inordinately conscientious their victims are. But we are commanded to love others in the manner in which we should appropriately love ourselves and as we would want others to love us. So, first things first. Think about what’s the most loving thing for you. Stop asking why when it comes to someone else’s behavior and start enforcing limits and boundaries. Even ASD people are capable of cleaning up their own messes. Besides, whether or not a person faces extra challenges in their character formation because of some handicapping conditions is completely irrelevant to the responsibility they have to discipline their conduct. The duty to secure appropriate treatment and to work like crazy to alter this abusive pattern falls squarely and solely on the abuser. Your duty is not to find reasons why your partner abuses, neglects his duty to reform, and tries to put all the burden on you but to fulfill your duty to protect yourself and to hold him to account.

    • Amen and Amen!
      Thank you for this wisdom, Dr Simon!

    • Little Miss Me

      Dr. Simon – Thank you so much for your affirmation! It was only after I separated the ASD from the behaviors and stopped looking for causes and solutions that I was able to see my situation clearly.

      So thankful that you clearly state where the responsibility lies. I spent years trying to figure out how I could fix things. I have been so conditioned to being responsible (blameable) for everything that I caught myself just the other day apologizing to a coworker – because I drove through a dead sopt while he was on the phone and he lost the call.

      I think that one challenge with ASD partners who are abusive is that it’s difficult to even talk about and not sound like we’re blaming the ASD. The Autism community is often very sensitive to the misconception that people with ASD are violent, and with good reason. But sometimes it’s as if you can’t even wonder or say that someone’s ASD MIGHT be a factor in their mistreatment of a partner. (Google Tony Attwood and the Cassandra Phenomenon for some heated arguments on that.) But I’m with Dr. Simon in that, for the purposes of dealing with the situation on a personal level, the cause just doesn’t matter.

      There seems to be an issue of responsibility vs. sensitivity and acceptance. Acceptance is a two-way street. For example, I need to accept that my ASD son does things differently than me, and he needs to accept that I do it differently than him. (Sometimes I’m not sure who has a harder time with that!) I need to accept that it’s harder for someone with ASD to fit in or understand another person’s point of view and work with them to bridge that divide, but I don’t need to accept ASD as an excuse for someone not trying to understand how to behave with other people (or worse, actively doing them harm).

      Thank you again, Dr. Simon, for weighing in here!

    • Katy

      awesome, thank you so much. Maybe we need to just give ourselves permission to ignore the psychological “diagnosis” and focus on what is right and good. And draw those boundaries, as you say!

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        so well stated. Appreciate this discussion.

    • Thank you Dr. Simon. This is such a difficult subject to process, especially when even the pros will tell you that you aren’t acknowledging your spouse’s diagnosis.

  21. NT Wife

    Thanks SO much for addressing this issue. Unfortunately in my case, my husband’s AS label has sparked compassion in our church & he is supported, even though I documented his abuse and gave it to our small group leaders. As in many abusive relationships, I have been told to have more grace, accommodate him more, work harder, etc. I’d like to recommend the book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick. She has helped me a lot, and also told me about the Cry for Justice book (which I’m reading now!) But the identity theft and fog of confusion..I can relate. We have two small children and what’s scary is the idea of someone who is not neurotypical (combined with abusive behavior) could be given the power to keep us in his country, or unsupervised access to the kids, when I know he isn’t capable to care for them by himself. So, I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row.. Our oldest is diagnosed on the spectrum and she is 3. My priority is getting her therapy, so she won’t repeat his behavior…

    • Hi NT Wife, welcome to our blog ‘family’. I’m so glad you are getting all your ducks in a row. Yes, we agree with your recommendation of that book by Leslie Vernick. Leaving and getting safe is harder when the church sides with the abuser, but many of us (including myself) on this blog have done it, so I think you will find lots of support here.

  22. derrick pinter

    i have autism and im 19. if i ever catch any abuser whether he has or doesnt have autism, i will confront that abuser or tell the cops on him/her. abuse is something i feel should not be tolerated

    • Thanks Derrick. Love your way with words!

      • derrick pinter

        no problem barbara. i most certainly would not let people abuse me from here on out. since im 19, i have a little bit of a sense of power now that im an adult. i also know that abuse can be physical or emotional (this is where i would need a better explanation on). i would say for the most part i was never abused anyway, but it never hurts to have a stand on this issue. this is where i stand regarding someone if they ever truly abused me.

      • Derrick, while our blog focuses on intimate partner abuse (one spouse to the other spouse) rather than abuse in other kinds of relationships, we do have lots of posts about emotional abuse which you might find helpful if you want to learn more about emotional abuse. Just look up ’emotional abuse’ in the tags in the top menu. 🙂

  23. On the other spectrum of empathy
    I have been in several abusive relationships in my live (I am now in my 50’s). The last one ended in 2009 and given my history, I am resolved not to enter into another relationship. I believe that the man of my very last relationship has Aspergers, but it never has been diagnosed, but I will get to that shortly.
    Over the years I have search for a solution to this problem by reading books on the topic and being in counseling. I have not only tried to understand the behaviors of my then significant others, my own behavior, but also had a close look at the dynamics of the interactions.
    Prompted by some blogs that I read just recently, I began to research Aspergers. Two things about this condition stood out to me, their low empathy and their tendency to interprete events as threatening to their persona. Which prompted me to look at my own personality traits, specifically what my own level of empathy is, and my own ability to recognize and react to situations that are threating to me.
    It is not that easy (nor reliable) to self assess. It appears that I have above average empathy. I will give you some examples that seem to stick out to me. I was watching Steel Magnolias in the movies, and when the movie ended, I was balling. I couldn’t stop crying. I looked at other people as they were leaving the movie theatre, and just a couple of people where fighting their tears. I had a similar reaction to other movies, for example Hotel Rowanda. News coverage of the Haitian earthquake left me nauseated for a week. One time I accompanied a friend to pick up her nephew at the airport. The boy’s parents were divorced and living in different countries, father and son had just spent their summer vacation together, and the son was going to return to live with his mother, and was not going to see his dad for a long time. As her nephew was saying good bye to his father, but son and father were crying. And seeing their pain, I started crying too. I still remember because it was embarassing.
    When I find myself in threatening situations, I think about what caused this behavior in the other person, when I should be thinking about how I can remove myself from this danger.
    There is a lot of material on the net about the lack of empathy (Asperer’s, sociopaths, etc) but I have yet to find material on people that have above average empathy, and below average self-preservation. I wish there was more.

    • Thanks for your comment, Exposure. Yes, it would be interesting to read more about unusually high levels of empathy.

  24. A L

    I have a friend who is in a relationship/lives with a guy with Asperger’s. A few months ago he started an argument over something she said that offended him. I don’t remember what she said but it wasn’t anything serious, and his reaction was uncalled for. He started a verbal fight while I was there, during which he was yelling at her, calling her a bitch and some other things. However, he has never physically abused her, and I don’t think he ever would. But half of the times I see them he’s being cold or rude to her over something or other. She says he’s just in a bad mood all the time.

    They’ve been together for several years and are in their early twenties. She’s a part time college student and full time manager. He’s been working the same job he had when they were teenagers, and gets jealous when she’s too busy to hang out with him. He also used to get jealous when she had male acquaintances, until he made a female friend.

    I recently got into a bit of a confrontation with him because I told him I felt he was being disrespectful to me, and he became very defensive. Later my friend told me that things don’t click with him, and didn’t necessarily excuse his behavior, but sort of justified it, if that makes sense. I’m worried that she lets him get away with being demeaning and rude to her because of his Asperger’s. I don’t know what to say to her, because they do love each other, but he doesn’t treat her with respect. It may not be my place but I’m worried about her future and well being after years of dealing with this. I don’t know how to bring up my thoughts to her.

    Obviously there are plenty of people with Asperger’s who don’t act like this, but at what point does his difficulty understanding others cross the line into plain mental abuse of my best friend?

  25. Danny O'Moore

    This is a tricky situation, it is not easily compared to a ‘neurotypical’ couple as people with ASD tend to view life and social exchange from a different perspective. Personally, I have experienced much abuse from my ex partner of 18 years and it wasn’t until we had children that I could bare it no longer. I would suggest the book ‘loving Dr Spock’ for good insight, and, as a friend, all you can do is be there for the woman (in this case) and support her with non-judgmental advice. There are supports on the Internet and good resources in most support agencies, all the best – it is hard not to take the behaviours personally but the person with ASD is usually experiencing anxiety and social confusion sometimes close to panic, baring this in mind sometimes helps.

  26. Aspergirl

    Reading some of this was a bit intimidating though I understand completely. I am an Aspie who was abused by her neurotypical partner. Something that I feel hasn’t actually been brought up here is that AS actually makes people a lot more vulnerable to abuse. (as a side note, I suspect that this is why some AS men end up abusers themselves. They themselves have been victims frequently and haven’t dealt with it well…..which is no excuse. We may have difficulty with a lot of things, but we are perfectly cabable of treating others with dignity and respect. If not, That is something else entirely, not AS)

    For myself, because of AS, I was always an easy target for bullying. I knew I was different, and I thought I deserved it. I always had plenty of empathy (probably too much), but I didn’t understand human behaviour, so I tended to read everyones intentions like my own. I didn’t understand that people didn’t always say what they meant or vice versa because I was always painfully honest, I didn’t understand that people could be mean or cruel for its own sake because I was only mean when there was no other alternative, and I didn’t understand that someone could be manipulative for their own ends because if I wanted something I asked outright, or if all possible, I got it myself without burdening someone unfairly.

    When I married the first time, a married another bully (and my first boyfriend) who took advantage of all these things. He never laid a hand on me, but then again, he didn’t need to (plus, he needed to be in ‘the right’ to retain his position, I think) I couldn’t work full time because of my condition and the anxiety that went with it, but he forced me into a number of stressful, detrimental jobs anyway and demanded that all I earnt go on bills (while he got to ‘treat’ himself to car parts). When I quit from break down or exhaustion or was fired, he’d threaten to stop paying for things – food, rent, power and made good on those threats quite a few times. I got a small government grant weekly but he took that too mostly (when he didn’t, it went on food anyway). As I was hungry all the time, and anxiety ridden, my aspergers got worse and it wasn’t long before I was a crying mess and unable to get out of bed a lot of days.

    He called me ‘crazy’ and a ‘bitch’ if I ever showed some spark, and take off leaving me to worry all night alone. He told me I should be in an institution. He told me I worshiped a different God from him and that I wasn’t a Christian. He’d go visit my family, forbid me from going with him, then complain about me and tell them all sorts of horrible things. To this day my relationship with my brothers is strained and awkward. And I believed I deserved it. Why would he do all this if there wasn’t a good reason?
    The church was no help. Even when I told them all this, they saw it just as ‘marriage troubles’.
    People would say ‘marriage is hard work’ and I’d think that every marriage was supposed to be as excruciating as this and that I’d have to put more effort in.
    It took me seven whole years to realized that I wasn’t happy and needed to get out. Even then I didn’t realize this was abusive and felt like a sinful failure for leaving (in fact, he told me I was incapable of a healthy relationship, and I believed him. again)
    I only realized it was an abusive situation in retrospect, when I was in a healthy relationship with a good man, two years later. I discovered what marriage is supposed to be and how a good man is supposed to treat me, and that I WAS a good wife and WAS capable of making someone very happy. Until then I was painfully naive and vulnerable and the worst thing was, despite my best efforts – educating myself, counselling, working on my self esteem and having a dedicated relationship with God, AS meant I was always going to have this huge blindspot that laid me wide open to abuse.

    • Aspergirl, thank you SO much for sharing your experience here. I am really sorry you were abused by your first husband and all those bullies at school.

      Your story will help others who read it, I’m sure. We have others on this blog who have AS to various degrees or have kids with AS, and I think they will gain from hearing your story. And for me, who has not had to deal with AS in my own life all that much, you have given me insight. Bless you.

      I am so very very glad you are safe and happy in your second marriage.

    • NT Wife

      Dear Aspergirl, that just makes my heart so sad, yet so happy for you to find a healthy relationship. I can echo what you’re saying – I know that my husband with AS was treated so cruelly at school. I am so concerned for my daughter with AS (and possibly my son) that I’m homeschooling. I think traditional school in some ways sets up children to fail. It’s not fair to you, and often cannot develop the special giftings that you have. I worry about my little girl sometimes, but your words give me hope. ❤ What do you think (if anything) could have kept you safe from abusive men? I worry that my daughter will repeat her dad's abusive ways. Blessings.

  27. Aspergirl

    But anyway, I just wanted to put it out there that AS people can be, and often are victims of abuse and they need support too. I’ve read a lot of similar and worse accounts to mine from other Aspie woman so I thought it was important to share.
    I haven’t shared this anywhere else, and I’m sort of scared to lay myself open like this, so please be gentle.

    • Actually, I had no trouble believing your account, Aspergirl. I fully believe that someone with AS could be targetted by an abuser who would figure out how to craft the abuse to take evil advantage of the AS person’s neuro differences.

  28. Aspergirl

    Thank you for your kindness Barbara 🙂
    It means a lot.

    I’m glad that it might help

  29. voicewilderness1

    I’m a female with aspergers and I can connect with people. I experienced parental abuse.

    • Thank you, voicewilderness1, I’m sure other readers of this thread will appreciate you’re having shared that. 🙂

  30. Tsungilosdi (formerly Jul)

    I wonder if some of these people supposedly diagnosed with Aspergers are not in fact OCPD/Anankastic. There are a lot of overlapping featutes including some sensory sensitivity issues.

  31. Note from Barb: I’m pasting here a comment by Lyn which she made at another post. You can see Lyn’s original comment here.

    I did a google search of Debi Pearl as I didn’t know who she was. I realise what I’m going to say probably sounds off topic but something that I am realising is significantly underestimated in the issue of marriage and abuse. That is how Autism Spectrum Disorders impact marriage. One of the things that lead me to this site was my search for understanding in relation to emotional abuse in ASD/NT relationships- I believe both my parents have ASD. I would consider my parents to have a biblical womanhood /biblical manhood relationship- very inflexible roles, with my Dad being the one who makes the decisions and my Mum his shadow/general dogs-body.
    I’ve been impressed the definition of abuse and the clear understanding of psychological and emotional abuse on this site, and the consistent attempt to be well balanced and Biblcally sound.

    In- “Unwrapping the Mysteries of Asperger’s: The Search for Truth and Discovery” by Kristi Hubbard, Hubbard references Debi Pearls’ books as “recommended reading” and ones that significantly shaped her view of wife/mother. I can see why they would appeal to some one with ASD. They are very black & white in their understanding of roles, and ASD struggle with nuances. It was disturbing that she felt their parenting book was valid – people with ASD lack what is know as “Theory of Mind” which in their parenting can [though does not have to] lead to neglect and abuse (most ASD forums have endless threads on this issue). What informs their view becomes a hardened perspective in their mind as “right”. Add in home-schooling and what you have are children in a isolated & potentially abusive environment.

    What is bothering me about the biblical womanhood/biblical manhood connection to ASD is that the inflexibility that lack of Theory of Mind creates (add in OCD, obsessions, &amp meltdowns that can be very frightening) — a situation where a man with ASD will end up being very controlling, and a woman very submissive-passive aggressive.

    The statistics are that 80% of marriages with an ASD spouse end in divorce, And the current estimates are somewhere between 1/150- 1/70 children are being diagnosed on the spectrum. The ratio is 1 girl for every 4 boys. https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/facts-about-autism

    Childhood diagnosis has only been a recent thing (last 20+ years), so there are many adults who are undiagnosed, and without support.

    Just a note/ message to Harlequin Tabby- please do not take my comment to mean that all ASD parents are or will be abusive to their children or spouse. I very much believe that people with ASD can be good parents, but teachings like these create rigid roles that can seriously backfire – you may not have been drawn to them, but others who the desire to fit in and be “girly” are at risk, as are men who will see an easy way to regulate/control their environment.

  32. Note from Barb: I’m pasting here a response to Lyn’s comment. (See the original response here.)

    The following is a comment from one of our readers who asked me to publish it anonymously.

    The ratios mentioned above by Lyn are accurate, as far as how many are diagnosed and the ratios of girls to boys. The Autism Speaks link is valid. However, I would caution that many who have ASD’s do not like Autism Speaks, as many in the Autistic community see themselves as differently abled (their brain works differently, not better or worse than a neuro-typical brain) and not disabled and Autism Speaks treats Autism as a disability, rather than an alternative way of the brain working.

    There is a lot of debate lately within the Autism community on this, and Autism Speaks is their biggest target in it all. They [the autism community] also have a problem with the fact that the majority of the money that Autism Speaks gets, goes to staff salaries and research on preventing/curing Autism, rather than research on how to help Autistic people live in a neuro-typical world and how to help a neural-typical world accommodate and accept the autistic people living within it. They don’t see Autism as needing a cure, because they see it as being an alternative way of brain function, not an illness. Anyway, either way you go on the debate, Autism Speaks isn’t looking super good in the Autism community right now. That being said, they do have accurate statistics.

    The divorce rate of 80% is actually referring to parents who raise an Autistic child, not to Autistic people who marry and later divorce. And that 80% was recently debunked, at least from my reading. It’s actually no higher than families who don’t raise an Autistic child. Autism Families: High Divorce Rate Is a Myth.

    Theory of Mind refers to the development of the understanding that people around you have feelings and thoughts that are separate from your own. Most of us develop this in toddlerhood and preschool years. People with Autism do not develop it at all or only partially develop it, to differing degrees (depending on how severe of Autism they have-the more severe, the less theory of mind is developed).

    The rest of the comments Lyn made about Autism are true. They are rigid thinkers who hold to what they believe is true. It is very, very hard to change their views, once one has been formed. And they rely heavily on hard data, as they don’t understand the nuances of inferred information or social cues. They rely on being directly taught. So, I agree with her that if one were to read a book, telling them that patriarchy is the right way, and that book made logical sense, they would take it as truth and create a sort of box in their brain. This is where all of their gender roles would be filed, from then on. Any data coming in that disagreed with or didn’t fit in that box, would be rejected. Once the box is in place, it’s very hard to replace with a different box, so to speak. Their brains work literally, and like a system of black and white. Cut and dry. No gray at all. New information fits in one of their brain’s boxes and is integrated or it doesn’t and is thrown out. It’s so important to build the right boxes in their brains, before the wrong ones are built first.

    And I do think the wrong ones [wrong notions at the bottom of those boxes] can potentially lead to abuse, as can things not going their way — not out of selfishness or narcissism, but out of their worlds spinning out of control (and their maladaptive attempts to control it again). Some parents work very hard with their autistic kids when the kids have upsets; the parents use social stories and tons of social instruction to try to build the right files in the child’s brain to begin with.

    Also, some autistic children have a willingness to learn and others don’t. Some are largely unaware of the needs of people around them, but are mortified if they ever hurt anyone. And this is a blessing for for the parents, because the child is willing to change (as hard as that is), to avoid hurting people. But others who have Autism are just as unaware of those around them, but do not care to even try to understand, and some just aren’t able to do it at all, no matter how hard they try. Actually, all people with Autism struggle with understanding those around them. It’s one of the hallmarks of Autism. The difference is in the willingness to try or not. That, I think, can be a critical difference in someone with an ASD being an abuser or not.

    All that being said, Lyn is right — this is a big issue in the Autism community. She is right about the diagnosis only really being understood in the past 20 years, and those who are higher functioning on the spectrum would have gone undiagnosed before that time. Before 20 years ago, Autism was diagnosed as childhood schizophrenia. Aspergers was undiagnosed all together. So there are a lot of adults out there with Autism, without supports or proper help. There may be many abuses out there that could have been prevented with proper early diagnosis. Sadly, Autism is relatively new in people’s understanding.

    • Emily

      Thanks for adding that, Barb. Very interesting to me about the myth being debunked about 80% divorce rate. However, I have to wonder since I am married (separated) to an ASD man with 2 ASD kiddos. He wasn’t/isn’t taking responsibility for his destructive behavior, although he is going to counseling now. However, I feel the ASD label goes far to excuse all kinds of behavior that, without the diagnosis, would be called on as abuse. I feel the affects are the same as any abusive marriage. Now that we are separated, (I always felt like a single mom anyway) so it is easier for him – he admits he is less stressed and “more fulfilled” as he can pursue career changes. I am less stressed because I am not dealing with all 3 melting down together, like a chain reaction. It is more painful to me to see him home with us and making selfish choices. It is better because he can come and visit for short periods, which is much more doable than staying together in a non-marriage, with destructive behavior patterns not changing at all. If that makes sense. 😉

  33. ManyQuestions

    many thanks for your posts, [I have been looking widely on the net for help – redacted by Eds] and although I have received a lot of help from an emotional abuse site, it is mainly narcissist victim recovery in nature. however, I identify with those here who have endured the temper tantrum/meltdown of an aspie and I have trouble with differentiating the Asperger’s from the abuse.

    I believe there is an element of narcissism or some other emotional/mental issues involved in my situation. There seems to be a history of problems through the generations in her family and I believe is part and parcel of traits handed down/ formed or copied because of the abuse down through the years. her mother is a real controlling woman and i beleive her sister was too and see it in her also. very very manipulative in just about everything. I was told by her mother she was always like that as a child and when didn’t win or get her way went berserk and upset games or threw a temper tantrum. I often get the silent treatment or shutting away, even after one sentence sometimes. I understand most of which has been reported here, although I am thankful there has never been any physical violence yet often I have been accused of it even if I just point a finger (which is a hand gesture as I talk and not a pointing of finger i may move hand ever so slightly n this is exaggerated out of all proportion) or give a look her direction. this has been going on for over 16 yrs and I am at the end of my tether.

    I recognise the guilt feelings and the whole religious/Christian thing too. I was heavily involved in worship and lead for many years and involved in mission and many other things, as have been my family. sadly the divorce word was a defo ‘no no’ and my pastor was adamant this was not going to happen. he would definitely not have it on his patch.

    I was leading one night when she walked in (she attended once in blue moon and hadn’t been in ages) and started to cry when the pastors wife sided over to say hello. . I knew this was a ploy to discredit me on a very important evening of harvest, right on the front row in front of me. I really struggled to lead that night, as I knew she was spinning lies and deception although probably mixed with some truth. I didn’t hear the conversation as I was setting up the stuff for the worship team but I knew by the looks it was not going to be good. the atmosphere was so hard and frosty, and everyone could see and was wondering what was going on. I did struggle through, but my family thought I had done real well to put it behind me and get on with job in hand so to speak and they felt it was a good night and blessed. that gave me lot of support and I felt things would be ok then. however, it materialised she had divulged I didn’t love her which I don’t. I am sorry, but I have over the years been numbed to any relationship and for many years we have just lived as lodgers so to speak. I do a lot of housework [details redacted for commenter’s safety] and many other things which surprises a lot of women I know. its a long story but when you are accused of abuse when in reality they are the awkward abusive one it gets to you in the end. I have continually lost out and been isolated and well basically a lot of what has been stated on others posts bar the physical abuse has happened. although having said that there is the door slamming, the yelling right in my face and at times I have been backed right into a corner and felt so threatened physically that I felt I was going to have to defend myself as it very much felt as if something violent was going to kick off.

    I have many questions to be honest (tbh) and slowly I have felt I have all but died. I know there’s still the bubbly, mad, real me full of life and fun inside. he comes out when I am out of the situation and away with some friends but that is rare. I cannot confide even in my best mate and I know his sister has been through hell with her ex and she understands but I like my life private and I know a lot would eventually be spread.

    needless to say the pastor intervened at this point, although I had told them and repeatedly after her diagnosis of Asperger’s asked for help and advice. I never got it never. they admitted they didn’t know enough, but they still came later and did damage, without even attempting to get advice or help on the matters even of Asperger’s. They really didn’t care about it as it was definitely not going to ruin the church or my relationship. they were adamant ‘no divorce’ under any circumstances and I got the quotes and all the barrage of religious reasons.

    I tried telling them what was going on to a point, but never divulged the terribleness of it all. Anyone with eyes could see a lot anyways and knew things those closer especially to me, but no one knew really the hell behind the closed door. but I did let slip many times that I am deeply unhappy and things are getting worse not better, especially since been to the Asperger’s expert and she had diagnosed her. I never got help or even words of comfort, never.

    however to cut a very long story short (shorter lol) the pastor and his wife arrived at my home to meet us. I was very much lambasted and told I was cursed according to the bible. I was shocked I thought I was going to get help at long last or at least be heard for once, especially as I had stood by him many times during heavy adversity and we had become good friends. I thought I was going to be at least listened to and get everything out into the open. I was told lots of things strongly and firmly and told in no circumstances could I continue in my role.( that I understood) I was to go away and was told go and find another place that we may fit in and get help. They gave me a name of counselling people who had been through an affair and set up their own church based counselling service, (they had only recently met this couple and thought oh this is a coincidence). But to go each week to it was never going to happen and definitely she had no interest whatsoever ( she wouldn’t go to an aspie expert remember) as it was miles away. sadly they had no idea of what was going on at all.

    there was a different agenda too controlling factors and I was seen as a threat to the new guy they were wanting to be pastor in order to retire and hand church on to. whatever he said was gospel in their eyes. I actually got on well with this guy too, but he had a very harsh stance on a lot of things. this just happened to be his opportunity to cut me out [from the church and my role there. — paragraph redacted for safety reasons — Eds].

    I have no faith in any of this now and no faith in any counsellors either. I trust no one and feel abused by the ones who should have known better. the Asperger’s expert here in my country works from miles away and when she was diagnosed and we had one counsel session which was very expensive although I felt it was for first time I was understood and could get help. she set up a programme to help but when she heard the cost she decided no way was she returning, and anyways she was often being shown up as abusive or contradictory and I was too much of ‘top dog’ in the session we had. she did not like the counsellor confronting her when she said things to me or about me which I refuted and the counsellor had a way of ‘tripping her up’ as she often contradicted as it was all lies. we went to other counsellors that were free with her work but this was short and tbh although I felt helped her in many ways, she would not keep up and when I arrived I found that most of the opinion had been formed as in previous sessions in other counselling and were full of lies and deception and that the basis was that I was the one with the problem and not her abusive manipulative personality. When I refuted comments, I was made out to be the sick one and the controller and the abuser.

    I absolutely hate abuse. I saw too much in my profession for years and in often counselling others in my work role. I also had a former girlfriend (my first true love) who had been physically abused. that was very hard for her and all through her large family. I saw a lot and read a lot to help her and as an empath felt a lot of the pain too. It wrent my heart often to know she had been so badly hurt, and so I never wanted to be like that and the very thought of being accused of such at mere raising of a voice or a simple hand talk gesture when they are in meltdown. I have even been told “I am going to ring police and get you evicted”.in severe meltdowns when I try to reason out and get so frustrated and try to confront or stand up to the nonsensical manipulation tactics or the silent treatment, she acts like I am going to beat her which is furthest from my mind but she creates this victim role and cowers n I believe its a ploy for me to back down and then its used repeatedly every situation that I am mad and abusive and all I am is trying to stand up for myself or correct something that’s false or reason out. I am made to feel so guilty then and feel as if I am an abuser. it’s very hard n soul destroying when she knows my background and how I feel so this is definitely one area she knows can cut me like a knife and right to my heart and bring me down. it scares the hell out of me tbh.

    and one time I believe women’s aid was rang in an attempt to try and point finger at me as I had totally enough and really stood up for myself that night after a severe meltdown. it was the worst day of my life. the tactic was used often to call a ‘higher authority’ or pastor or church people or my parents. She knew I am a private person and would not like my business aired everywhere. I have found out though she did trounce my name often when I wasn’t around and had an audience. she now had no pastor and my parents said things and crossed her few years back and she hasn’t been near them since only at Christmas. when she doesn’t get her way or feels hard done by for any reason whether by me in shop or work she goes on a full meltdown wobbler and woe to anyone in the way. sadly its usually me or her mum though her mum is very controlling in her own right. the two together is always disaster. I hate Christmas time because of the fighting. every special occasion is never special as its madness.

    I have many things to share but thx to these posts I realise a lot of my questions are answered and I feel I can move forward a bit more. I am very alone, scared and feel all hell is about to break loose. I have seen a solicitor with regard to divorce. my parents and family now back me and want me out. it has taken me a long time but they see mentally I am being broken and abused and they see my health deteriorate and fear I am on the border of a break down or worse. I have never been so low in my life and I write a lot of songs or poems. I have lately wrote things so dark n suicidal it scared me when I read them back, as I never ever felt that way before and never in my wildest dreams would think that way at all. it has scared me and made me realise there’s no saving this abusive mad relationship. there’s no willingness on her part now she is diagnosed to attempt to see my side or compromise. she believes she is right thinking and ok different to others but it is their duty to see her side not other way around and accommodate all her feelings and needs. she is always right – always. she never apologises.

    what hurts me most and drives me crazy with frustration, is that I can never reason out anything with her. there’s no sitting down discussing and even agreeing to disagree on things. there’s never any way I ever get my point across as its just blanked and often with a run to her room to shut away or silent treatment. and those meltdowns are so severe at times I am so close to losing my mind. on many occasions these meltdowns are after midnight after a hard days work which I get up early for. sometimes they continue so abusive and relentless that I have no option to get out of bed, leave the house and drive around all night. l went out n drove around into wee small hours and stayed in car parks on that worst of all days – it was so severe. I just happened to get a call from mum that night I broke down , but I still drove til early hours before staying on her living room floor all night.

    I am just so glad I have found a site that agrees divorce is ok in these situations. and its ok to separate. and its not Asperger’s totally although I have no doubt there is elements wrapped up in it all. it is abuse isn’t it I am receiving?? I feel it is I have felt this right from day one but felt “no you are married for better for worse see it through”. but I have done all in my power to do that and nothing I can do makes a difference. it is worse now than even at beginning. I should never have went down this road as I knew it was just out of fear of being left alone as all my mates had got married n moved on with their lives. I wanted to do same. but I knew deep down I didn’t love her really. but I did try to.

    when there’s no willingness on their part to change is it worth staying? in fact at first I hung in there as was always told it was depression waiting for the lift but now there’s a label. all I get is put up with it its me I am going to get worse and I see that a lot. and I cant change its the way I am.

    Asperger’s and this coupled with hypochondriac tendencies combined with a very manipulative abusive nature and many other supposed physical ailments. used often to get out of housework or things she doesn’t particularly want to do. a cry for recognition I guess. is there really any hope for a decent relationship. I haven’t even touched the sexual side of things or elaborated on the meltdowns.
    walking on eggshells the rest of my life is not my way of fun or a healthy relationship, and certainly not what I want. I should have walked years ago and went to be with my first love when she wanted me to a few years back after many years of searching for me . I decided then on her advice to give it one more go and now there’s too much water under the bridge. the exaggeration on everything kills me inside as a good person. to be told I am an abuser, a rapist well probably called just about everything under sun and opposite often to what I am.

    I once was told to read a book on love languages – it is brilliant and I don’t see any of mine being met at all. and very much the opposite. I am at a crossroads in life and I have messed up a lot. I am scared and feel trapped.

    my solicitor wants to send a letter to ask for a separation n to sort financial house affairs. my mum wanted me to hold off till I got somewhere to live. I am scared. I want to move now. I would be out only there’s little decent housing available here and what is often is in in very dangerous gang run neighbourhoods. my mum feels if I get a letter sent out, who knows what is going to kick off and I could be homeless within minutes. I believe that would happen too. I really need a lot of advice regarding that before I act but I desperately want out now. I haven’t filled in a lot of stuff here its like everyone else’s story a massive one how do u condense it. but believe me it is a living hell every day. I have a vacation coming up and I am dreading it. its my worst time of year when everyone else enjoys , I endure and live my hell. I broke down with my doc the other day asking for help he has reverted me to in house counselling but there’s a massive waiting list and I am about to go through two weeks hell on earth. I need out ! he actually is her doc too, and he told me surprisingly, to get out he seemed to know the situation. it was always that doubt in back of my mind is this the Christian right thing as I had been hammered and told I was cursed. I know I am cursed but how can I love someone who I tried everything with n every day I reminded myself of 1 Corinthians 13 – “love holds no record of wrongs” n began anew every day putting aside all that happened in past to bin, but not her and I have had the ‘love’ (was never true love) beaten out of me mentally abusively beaten out. I tried tell my pastor this but their agenda was different. all they wanted was no divorce and me out of church to get help elsewhere but never to be involved until I was ok again. it was never about her and Asperger’s or abuse. it was all my fault , all because I said I do not love her. in fact tbh I never did I know that now. I only ever loved one person truly. I have since truly loved another, but that’s another story too.

    I feel if I don’t move I will be dead totally. I am sorry to be so long winded but I need help badly. desperately. and here there seems to be no help its all aspie help groups. there seems to be no mental abuse counsellor setups. I am wanting to get my local surgery doctor to get me that. I have tried looking online. this site has been best I have seen and is right where I am at. I just know to get out would be therapy but open another can of worms too. damned if u do n if u don’t. I am terrified. there is a possibility of a house coming up in the family, which I really would like but I can see just out of awkwardness a fight once a solicitors letter goes in to any financial thing. and I know she will try all in her power to hurt me back. I know a restraining order is going to have to be placed too and stalking will happen. I am so fearful and making this move. I have support from family to a point they are still deeply religious and all I get is it thrown at me . they believe I am cursed too despite backing me if I need to do this. she often wanted a divorce. her way of getting at me. always backed down when I said go ahead there’s the door. she wanted me out would never make the move. I feel I have no option but form health sanity and happiness and to move forward I need to be one make the move. its never going to happen is it the other way.

    please help me I just need to know am I doing the right thing. am I justified. I lost my faith and I don’t feel I have any ‘words’ like I used to. and I don’t believe they would come any ways as I have turned my back so how could I receive or know if I am right anymore. I wouldn’t trust myself anyways to interpret right.

    I am lost and lonely and hurting so much. if I don’t get away I cant carry on.

  34. Joanna

    I hear YOU sister. They are a different species. It’s nothing you did and nothing you didn’t do and nothing you could have done. My fam wa hyper Catholic and I felt like a total failure. Since educating myself in high functioning autism I have since realised that it was never anything to do with me. Please take that with you. God does understand our struggles. Xx

  35. anonymous

    I have autisim and I can tell you for me it is opposite. I have PTSD from being emotionally abused by people all because of assumptions on that autistic people are mean. My life has been ruined because of peoples rude remarks and bullying behavior. I had ego decompensation because of an abusive exhusband, therapist, coworkers, and managers as well as men who took advantage of my naive personality.

  36. AspieMom

    I’m an aspie woman in an abusive relationship and my theory of mind has been detrimental to me. I have too much empathy.Since I don’t do anything to purposely hurt anyone and care very much about the people I love, I kept thinking my husband was coming from the same place. That he just didn’t understand his actions hurt me.

    I homeschool my kids now because I have always considered my place as their mother, meant their needs were most important. I treat everyone with kindness, but I can’t always recognize when someone is upset. I have always encouraged my children to give me feedback. Public-school was harming them to such a degree, that there was really no alternative.

    After eight years of escalating abuse, I have finally wrapped my mind around the fact that the man I love the most, does not care if he hurts me as long as it serves his purpose. I have always tried to think of new and original ways to make my husband happy and if he asked me for something different I bent over backwards to accommodate him. I have no idea how to get out of this, I can’t hold down a job and apparently lack the skills to identify people who would do this to me again. Once I recognized it was abuse (nearly a decade later) and he didn’t care about me, I searched for a way out. There are no services for women like me. I’m intelligent and hard working but my auditory processing and inability to tolerate crowds and too many social interactions make it impossible. The state I live in is remarkably intolerant of different people and most everyone is the same religion and seem to be insulted that I am not. I too have PTSD. And several very kind and well behaved children on the spectrum.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Aspie Mom. And welcome to the blog 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I hope you find benefit from reading more of our posts.

  37. VitalGreyMatter

    Hi Everyone
    This is the first time I have come across a blog or comments like this and I have to say it has been hugely eye-opening, humbling and sad for me to read it.

    I was diagnosed with Aspergers 2 years ago. I am 35 years old and female. Most of my siblings have more or less turned their backs on me; they were perhaps not the most supportive of people in the first place, have given up on me, or have their own issues to grapple in life. I think they have found it difficult to deal with the reality of knowing that they too struggle with similar issues in their own lives and relationships. They were happier me being the ditsy, eccentric, party-animal in the room, not realising that these characteristics were all efforts to cover my inner turmoil, and provided a mask for a lot of pain underneath. I was also a useful and colourful distraction for a family riddled with dysfunction, pain and abuse, traits that before now had been a very well-kept secret. It was my relationship with my now husband – who is precious to me – that made me realise that I had a trail of bad patterns when it came to relationships in life, and I have spent the last few years really striving to work to understand myself better, and be a kinder, happier, healthier individual where my mind is concerned and in my interactions with others.

    The comments from those of you who have suffered the dual issue of abuse and a partner with autism/aspergers has been difficult for me to read, not least because they are so close to home and my own situation. I hope I do not offend anyone by giving the views from the opposite side. It is all too easy to cast stones at others when there may be genuine reasons why someone has been wired in such a way in life as to lead them down a darker path than others, with not the right skills (yet) or support to find a way back and take a brighter route. I for one believe that every individual has the power to change.

    I am married (1 year) and have been with my partner for 4 years. We are both educated and work in good jobs and earn a modest but stable income. We bought our first home earlier this year, and don’t have any children. We have friends and family who we see or speak to fairly regularly. It has had its ups and downs. I don’t really have a good benchmark for healthy relationships a) because I did not grow up with those role models and b) because I am lacking in social and communication skills that would prevent me from easily picking up healthy and good habits. I just assumed our ups/downs were down to my Aspergers (largely) and that we perhaps had different views on life. I assumed with time, things would calm down, and we would both adapt. Sadly that has not been the case, and although the arguments have become less fraught, elongated and loud, there is still a lot of anger and aggression from my side and complete emotional shut-down from my partner. Neither go well together, and adding the accumulated resentment from years of struggle I think stops any true resolution or healing to happen. Seeing my other half in distress and lonely, I often encouraged him to seek professional help or contact friends or family for advice (including my own if he preferred), but he would never seem to do this. I am committed to achieving a better way of being together although I admit my ‘way’ of doing that may not be terribly effective as a struggle with neuro-typical standards and expectations.
    I suddenly realised I was abusive when I raised my hands to my partner relentlessly one night after far too much wine and an argument. It happened in complete and total desperation and anger at something that looking back I had largely fabricated in my mind. I am not here to look for sympathy; there is clearly a huge problem in society that we need to clear up around domestic abuse in all its forms. I have been verbally and emotionally abusive in all my intimate relationships, often a precursor to more physical outbursts. In the country and culture I come from, this type of behaviour is actually considered quite normal for married couples. To give you an example, I raised it with my sister-in-law as a red flag I picked up in a previous relationship: she discarded it as just part of the lay of the land and to be expected. Imagine that as being my closest advice!

    I myself had not hit my husband before that occasion, but have thrown things to the floor in frustration a couple of times in my life as a result of not feeling understood, listened to, or whatever other ‘reason’ I decided in my mind. I realise now there is absolutely no excuse for this behaviour towards or around others. I was devastated when I awoke the next morning to realise my actions and it was then that I realised and admitted my own abusive nature to myself. It was a bitter pill to swallow but I am so glad that I now see the reality of the situation, for the sake of myself and others. To this day I am still learning – and I see this as being down to the wiring that accompanies being abusive, as much as the slow developmental learning trajectory for those with autism – and I know it will take much more for me to fully comprehend the extent of the impact of my actions on the well being of others. It is horrible to feel on the one hand kind and good, whilst knowing you inherently have a bad side that you have only just realised is there.

    Prior to that event, I was aware we had problems and believing these were largely down to the communication issues around the ASD diagnosis, I sought out counselling which have provided me with some lessons and tools on anger management, emotional control, and other similar coping strategies. I am still in this counselling now. After discovering the truth within myself, and recognising that I need to change (for myself, not just my partner), I have signed up to a DA perpetrator programme. Only a few sessions in, I am suddenly learning at this stage in life what it is to be vulnerable, to trust, to be real and in the moment, to have self-worth and see the worth in others. I am not sure I yet understand love and compassion, or can bring myself to truly forgive others over and over again. These are painful lessons for someone who has historically defaulted to negating others not out of spite, lack of empathy or manipulation, but out of an effort to control the world and avoid their inner fears.

    I know it will take a long time to overcome the patterns that are ingrained in my mind. It may perhaps be an even harder journey for me because of the Aspergers. For example, only yesterday did I discover what trust really is. Until now, I had never learned that lesson, nor did anyone think to teach it to me nor did I have reason to go searching for it, given I didn’t even know it existed other than as a word. I am not sure I ever knew what love really was, or forgiveness, or kindness, or compassion…. I got married because I thought my husband was (and still is) the best person I have ever met in the world, full of kindness and understanding and patience. I realise now that it is largely because of his gentle nature that I was attracted to him. Isn’t it that we seek in others what we do not have in ourselves? I was very open and honest with him about this – and always have been along the way as is typical of someone with autism. So the reality of our situation has not been in question.

    I am not blaming others in life for not teaching me those lessons, but if you are not naturally wired to filter, absorb and understand virtues and good values from the world around you from a young age, then the only way they are likely to be learned is through hard lessons, like anything else in life. I am not an awful person, and am (I think!) fairly well-regarded in my job, community and social situation. Unfortunately for me I have not guarded myself and others from the darker aspects of my personality as I did not even know there were beautiful, gentle and kind parts to being me, nor did I know until relatively recently that those dualities or differences existed in human nature. If it makes sense, I am learning about the human condition through making very human mistakes. I cannot apologise for being me because if I did that, I may as well give up on life and say I am not worthy of existence. That is not true. I know I have something of value to contribute in spite of the darker sides of my character that I am working hard to manage and control. In time, I believe I can be of great support to others in a similar situation as me.

    We are at the stage now where my husband has had enough. He cannot take it anymore. Only through my own realisations and reading around the impact of abuse on others do I understand his situation, although I recognise that comprehending it in all its potential of complexity is far out of reach for me. I realise how guilty he is at the thought of leaving me, even when he loves me (and this he has said so many times). I can understand why he would find it difficult to leave the person he fell in love with, when he feels the conflict of wanting to stay and support me whilst also putting himself in a risky and vulnerable position. He must feel lonely and isolated, although I am pleased now he has reached out for help both to loved ones and through the programme I am engaging with, which supports partners too. He cannot handle the serious ups and downs, which I have tried to negate in the past – I can see that now. He has been let down by me repeatedly and has not looked after himself in that process, and when I come back to pick him up, he has the duality of wanting to talk to me but knowing I am the one that has brought the emotional pain. Part of me knows my husband is emotionally vulnerable, given the situations he has found himself in the past. I just have never had the tools or know-how to protect him from myself. I can understand that he will find it night impossible to trust me anymore? I cannot leave him as that would fly in the face of our wedding vows and my commitment not only to him, but to myself. I believe I can change and that it will take time, but it will happen. If he chooses to leave me, I will not try to stop him or convince him to stay. It has to be his choice. I will be very sad if he chooses to go, only because selfishly I feel like he is giving up on me, when that is all that has happened for me in life. But that is selfish, and the part of me that wants for his happiness conversely wants him to have a healthier, happier life for himself and his future.

    I would like to share what I really think about all of this. I hope I can share this here, without being aggrieved by those who have been hurt by someone in the past. I respect that everyone’s situation is different. I believe my husband and I can make it work, with understanding and forgiveness, not only that, but it will be a defining moment for our life together and provide an opportunity to grow in courage, respect and love. The only way I can get through this is by forgiving and understanding myself more and more on a daily basis, and therefore others too. Doing this will help me to have better actions in managing my emotions and in relating to others close to me. That is about the undoing of 30-odd years of patterns. I believe if OH can re-build his emotional strength – and I respect the space, freedom and time he needs to do that (which by the way, I am doing now) – his self-worth and his capacity to forgive, then together we can work to demonstrate that those with the failings of DA who grasp the gravity and extent of their problem, CAN overcome it, CAN do that within the supportive environment of a marriage over time, and can live a loving, healthy and productive life with others. If I cannot hope for that, then what is the point?

    • Hi Vital Grey Matter
      It took us a while to decide whether to publish your comment, because it was so long and we wanted to read it carefully but our time is always under pressure. We added extra line breaks to it to make it more readable. We also removed your husband’s name, as we don’t want to expose his identity.

      Your comment gives an interesting perspective — one we very rarely hear — from a female who has realised she has been abusive and who sounds like she really wants to change and is actually doing the hard work to change. I am only speculating, but maybe the fact that you have aspergers and have accepted that diagnosis and are positively taking it on board — and that is contributing to how you want to change some of the ways you interact with others — will indeed lead to you living a more productive and healthy life 🙂

      Thank you for sharing.

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  38. Amanda

    I dated a man who claimed to have Aspergers. His callous and manipulative behavior became unbearable. I cared for him deeply and I still do, he was absolutely brilliant and on rare occasion he was deeply caring. In hindsight, I believe he was afflicted with NPD and NOT Aspergers.

  39. Devastated

    Wow! I’m glad I’m not alone.
    Been with my husband for about 10 yrs.

    It’s amazing how intelligent these individuals are. So intelligent they can manipulate a professional. Yet they live in a constant state of chaos, drama and creating trauma.

    It took nearly ten years of prayers, cries for relief.

    My soon to be ex husband has caused so much stress, physical and emotional pain literally on a daily basis; not just once a day, it can last days sometimes. The mood swings, the undermining, the sabotaging can take a toll on one’s physics. Because of the emotional abuse and daily stress to keep a roof over our heads, the business running and him abandoning me in times of crisis. Not to mention the loneliest of being with someone who is unable to emotionally connect, communicate or trust. Not to mention putting myself thru medical treatments to try to give him a child he never really wanted. All of these “things” has caused me a rare and deadly autoimmune disease that I have been battling for a year to get into remission. He has been totally opposite of being supportive. It’s almost like he wants me to die.

    Truly he has not been a husband. He was finally diagnosed with Aspergers.

    He knew he had it, but kept it a secret for 10 yrs. It was God answering my prayer to help me to understand and to reveal about how I should proceed in this marriage.

    It was such a devastating moment in the psychologist’s office to hear, “I never wanted to get married. I was pressured by my family. Nor did I want children. I would be completely happy being alone.” Then to hear the doctor say, I will have to go outside of the marriage to have my emotional needs met.

    I was trying to hold back my tears not to show my emotions. When we got home. I had to express yet another loss in my life. The only thing the anti-husband could say: ” well, it is what it is; not going to change; deal with it”. Basically he confirmed that he will not do what the doctor said he must do — and not his problem, it’s mine.

    As I write this response, anti-husband had to be removed from the home by police officers which he called on me, which backed fired on him. The officers saw exactly what he was doing.

    So much I could share of living with a man with Aspergers who is abusive on all levels.

    The divorce is going to be even more hellish from what I have been told. Since he refuses to take responsibility for anything, it’s going to probably place me in the ER.

    Thank you for letting me vent and share.

    • Hi dear sister, I changed your screen name to “Devasatated” — for your safety. It’s not a good idea to use any name that might identify you, unless you are well and truly safe from your abuser.

      Welcome to the blog, and thanks for sharing! 🙂
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. And f you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      I edited your comment a bit, airbrushing some details, to further protect your identity.

      Please re-read your comment and ask yourself is there anything else you would like us to remove or airbrush. If there is, email twbtc.
      Some abusers are canny at the internet. If you anti-husband is like that, he might find this blog and read the comments to see if any of them might have been written by you — in order to use what you’ve said here to try to further abuse you.
      I don’t want to increase your fear, but it’s wise to bear these things in mind. We prioritise the safety of our readers 🙂

      I hope you keep reading here.

      Your husband (anti-husband) is an abuser. If he has Aspergers, that is not what makes him an abuser, though it would exacerbate his abusiveness most likely. But in and of itself, Aspergers does not CAUSE abuse. Abuse is a CHOICE, always.

    • StrugglingToBeFree

      You are definitely not alone and I have found this site such a send as I searched for many years trying to come to terms with aspergers and abuse. I have been married nearly two decades years and knew my wife for several years before we got married. I had no idea of aspergers or any control / abusive traits but not long after we were married she showed depression symptoms and the abuse started. I endured simply out of marital duty and my religious beliefs at the time. I was very heavily involved in leadership at my church and also a worship leader.

      To cut a long story short that became my escape only for her to also destroy this too. My friends deserted due to her odd behaviour along with her lies and deceit and ‘tantrums’, which she rarely displayed in close circles but often in public places. I am still apologising yet for her behaviour and it’s been ingrained in me to say sorry so much. I came upon this site over a year ago and along with my doctor as my final try to understand realised I must get out of this relationship even for my own sanity and safety.

      I proceeded to a solicitor with view to separate and divorce last June. It has been a massive struggle to say the least with threats manipulation and emotional and mental abyse on an increased scale. It would take me ages to list some of the madness and emotional blackmail poured out never mind the attempts at every angle to thwart a seperation and financial agreement.

      I am not out of the woods yet but have only in the last two weeks got that agreement although still meeting with abuse and no admission of wrong doing. This is after all most definitely ‘all my fault’ and I will never survive acc to her.

      I have thankfully [proceeding to obtain a new place to live which] is totally out of the area and I hope I will not be hassled there, which is my new fear. I cannot wait to get away. I have had counselling and although this has stopped I realise that I have come a long way but am still undergoing a lot of hardship and sadly until i move am still under the trappings of abuse mentally and emotionally. At times almost physically which is the reason for leaving the house and spending nites out in my car. In the last few months I’ve spent many nights driving around in my car letting her calm down and at times all night out.

      I am still much under pressure and at the end of my tether but felt I had no choice. My biggest battle was well meaning family and church pastors/ people who did not understand my plight. I would have left much sooner and had better opportunities years ago only for the destructive and harmful attempts of those said To keep us together and sadly I have lost everything I had that I felt was good. I was told I was cursed and a lot of abusive things and slander told about me. I did not fit the high ideal of marriage in their eyes. Needless to say it has made life with my family very difficult as well as all those I previously ministered to and it’s taken me a long time trying to convince my immediate family this is the right thing to do.

      I just want to encourage those struggling not to give up…. But if you can get out ..do it!! Once I made this decision I have seen manipulation and control increase beyond words, which showed me that abuse is definitely not aspergers and something you do not need to tolerate whether out of love or sense of duty. I am continually quoted bible verses and my vows and receive much abuse, but I now know the difference between abuse and Asperger traits. Yes they are difficult to distinguish at times and yes sometimes Asperger traits do trigger a response to things that trigger the abuse sometimes, but nevertheless abuse is abuse.

      Like Devastated’s husband, my wife still assumes no responsibility for her behaviour and said to me some yrs ago ‘It is what it is and deal with it’ only to add that ‘It is going to get worse and you are going to have to put up with it and be my carer and look after me.’

      I am getting out for my life and my sanity which I feel has not just been drained but has been taken from me as well as all my interests and friends, my fun aspect in my life …

      Personally I feel dead inside ..I let this go on far too long. [Nearly two decades] of abuse is too much . My advice is don’t let it destroy you any more get free to be free!! I now have to escape [details removed for commenter’s safety] – there is no best time to do things! I then have a long battle ahead to remove stupid traits I’ve learned ways I say things and react and get my life back and much more. Try and get my happiness back as it’s defo not there at the moment.

      I am struggling big time at the moment as my emotions are rock bottom but I felt I have to offer others some insight … And hopefully encouragement… You are not alone .. You are not crazy.. But do not ‘put up’ and let these relationships destroy you any further. Do not let Christian or well meaning religious beliefs and bodies manipulate you either. Give them no more fuel – it’s tough believe me it’s a struggle/ battle. One of the things I had to do was put me first – that’s something totally against what I was taught in life and belief – [I was taught:] “Jesus first others second and yourself last”… I’m still struggling with that one but for once I go first in this case .. I have to otherwise I die!

      I know this is long but as with everything it’s a very long story hopefully my next one is a freedom song! I offer all my best wishes to you in your struggle to be free again and life!!

      • Hi, brother, I changed your screen name for your safety. It’s not a good idea to use any name that might identify you for your screen name. Welcome to the blog 🙂 We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. And have no concerns about your email address being public: it will never be displayed publicly here. Only our little team of moderators can see your email address, and that’s because they have access to the back of the blog, the side which is not public.

        If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

        Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad you are on the way to freedom.

        We know that male victims of domestic abuse have many things in common with female victims — and you’ve had a lot of those things: emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, terrible guidance from Christians, slander, misunderstanding, misjudgement, coercion to keep the marriage going even though it is horribly destructive…. threats, fear, intimidation… the struggle to believe that you are indeed a victim of abuse, and the learning curve involved in putting one’s own safety and wellbeing first, which goes against the grain of so much of what we are taught in churches.

        You’ve probably already seen this, but just in case you haven’t here is our tag for Male Survivors. It currently has seven posts in it.

      • StrugglingToBeFree

        Hi Barbara thanks for your encouragement and yes it has been all that and very difficult
        I am not a new member i did not realise I used my email for normal use
        I’m sorry for the hiccup as my wife knows this other email and may try access things at later date
        I’d hate her to find anything about this in the net
        I know at all times u keep safety foremost and for that I thank you
        Yes terrible guidance and it has left me very afraid as over these next few weeks my seperation physically will take place and then much questions and sadly a lot if people will want to know the whys and what happened.

      • Thanks

        I changed your screen name to “StrugglingToBeFree”
        so if you comment again, I suggest you use that name. And if you like, we can also change the screen name on the first comment you wrote at this blog, about a year ago, so they are both “StrugglingToBeFree” …. or if you want to pick a different name, just let us know by emailing twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

        After I ‘welcomed’ you to the blog, I realised you had been welcomed before, by Twbtc. Never mind. 🙂

        Here are a few posts which may give you ideas for how to respond when people start asking you Why you left and What Happened.

        Unhelpful Comments by Well-Meaning People

        Why Didn’t You Leave?

        What do you say when a friend tells you, “You have a victim mentality.”

      • Strugglingtobefree

        Many thanks Barbara for these links
        They have so helped me over the last few days and very interesting as I always wondered about some things.

        It is beyond belief some reactions that are so destructive and dangerous and not to mention extremely hurtful. I’ve been there so many times and even as I was reading I had a call from a close friend who just does not get why I am still there but it’s more complicated and in my situation seperating and needing financial benefit of a house sale etc to move on

        [things] Are so delicate
        One wrong move and the whole agreement and house move are scuppered.

        I am just trying to lie low at the moment and avoid confrontation although yesterday i received a barrage of abusive emails while in work (something that lately has been on the increase). Despite me saying no more emails it was like a red rag to a bull and when I refused to answer increased with slander and made up concocted allegations to hurt me.

        I am hopefully free in a few weeks and it cannot come soon enough.

        One interesting thing is that I always said it was like living with two different people Jeckyl and Hyde. Interesting even she admits before we knew each other, her sister called her that and thought she was schizophrenic.

        I have walked on eggshells enough for twenty years. I said this is going to be my year and I hope it is.

        At the moment I’m experiencing the silent victim treatment so all the posts and comments just make me realise even more that I am doing the right thing in getting out. Thankyou again for helping me get to this place even in my own heart and head – that has been a struggle.
        This site has been so helpful and I’ve searched for years for help sadly. Now I know I got advice in very much the wrong places and have been destroyed inside by a lot of destructive counsel not to mention putting me in grave danger.

        I am dreading these next few weeks till I move out as I can see already there is a backlash of abuse and undercurrents of more possibly that I may not have a choice in but to get a non molestation order served.

        I made sure i did everything legal and in the signed agreement there is a statement neither party will have anything more to do with each other or hassle direct or indirectly. I am hoping that is stuck to, but now the bad mouthing and more public saving of face on her part starts and running to people who will listen to her. Very interesting she made a beeline for a church knowing certain ppl from my old church would be there. However one is a close friend and past pastor and ex policeman he would not listen and wanted my side of the story.
        Needless to say they have been snubbed.

        It’s been going on a while and it’s hard for me but with being extremely well known in [my country] in certain circles I feel very embarrassed and ashamed. This I know is only the beginning to a long road to recovery of my life.

        I cannot say this enough I so appreciate you and your team. I have as yet to find anything here in [my country] to help me even counselling wise it falls short. [My country] is so steeped in legalistic religious beliefs and traditions and I’ve had an uphill battle both with church and pastors as well as with family. I think their beliefs have been severely challenged and I am still getting odd comments about vows etc.

        I had to make a very bold stand a few weeks ago with them over that and it hurt them deeply and things have been delicate since. My dad said I was angry but I made it clear with the abuse I was getting and wrong responses, I had a right for once to stand up and be upset and angry. It didn’t go down too well and I know see a lot of my life has in some ways been manipulative and controlling from them too. I am [middle aged] and still treated as a child and told all the time what to do.

        I’m just in a very roundabout way saying thankyou as these links have cemented and helped me tremendously and will be so helpful when i eventually reveal my secrets to those whom I’ve until now kept quiet to who I know care for me deeply.

      • Dear StrugglingToBeFree,
        we held your comment in moderation for a while before I got round to publishing it. The reason I didn’t publish it straight away was that it needed editing. If you read it as-published, you will see that I redacted the country you come from, and your exact age. We want to help you keep safe, and I think it would be too risky to reveal your identity at this stage. …. people from your church and allies of your abuser might happen to find this blog and read your comments, and guess that it’s you.

        I also edited your comment by inserting many double-line breaks between paragraphs.

        So if you want your future comments to be published quickly, it would help us if you put in double-line breaks between paragraphs.
        thanks! 🙂

  40. Anonymous

    I am in the same ridiculous relationship. I am no longer confident or happy. And I was doing the same thing as you. Telling myself it’s the disability. He truly loves me. But that’s a lie. He doesn’t love anyone but himself. And I need to get out while I still have my sanity.

    • Strugglingtobefree

      I am as I write just in my car – it’s become my haven – parked up in a local supermarket. I signed contracts yesterday to move to a new house and area and, as my doctor predicted and warned, there has been a torrent of verbal and emotional abuse since. I have no option but to remove myself for hours on end, and sometimes into early hours just to avoid conflict. I was given lots of emotional blackmail and just in this last half hour been subject to a lot of material and financial abuse on top of things regarding my own personal possessions that I have been packing with as I hopefully am moving out for good this week. I was told I will not survive and I am useless and amount to nothing and that i will fall flat on my face and end up financially destitute without her. She forgets I lived for along time on my own before I met her and quite capable of looking after myself. Actually I would definitely say I am the more domesticated one and do the bulk of the cooking and cleaning and always have looked after myself and my surroundings inc my own washing ironing etc.

      This only serves to show me there is no remorse or love in this relationship. Only moments before I was receiving an offer of a nice treat that she had specially bought for me as she so loves me. Minutes later I am receiving a tyraid of abusive language. This was due to me saying, after being quizzed as if the just bought things were hers, that these things I bought this morning in the shops, I am packing are mine for my new house. Suddenly I received another burst of verbal, financial and manipulative abuse. I do try and avoid packing anything near her but as you will know aspies miss nothing and spot everything that changes around the house. The emotional and mental abuse increased as I asked her to stop and calm and don’t be starting down a road of giving out words and getting more and more wound up. I stood my ground and in not many words told her that she was her own worst enemy and that I did not need to listen to her crap and totally unfair and unfounded comments.

      I was going out AGAIN and it’s because it is not fair to have to listen to such verbal abuse in my own home. Of course it just kept getting worse but I detest abuse of any sort and while I stand my ground I will not revert to mud slinging or crazy heated arguments that are only fuelling her control. I also feel it does not fuel their fire something I’ve had to learn over the years. Plus it does not let me mentally absorb continual abuse and therefore protects us both. It also keeps me quite simply from losing my head in anger and saying far too much in defence. I also will not stay around as, while I am definitely not a violent person and despise it all, I am afraid at times as I have been cornered and pushed mentally and verbally to a place I do not want to be in that would warrant physical Contact just to get away. As many will know some with aspergers tend to over exaggerate situations so even a wave or point of a finger is seen by her to be physical abuse and the police or women’s aid are called. It frightens me that I could be accused of something far removed from what actually took place and be charged and end up in court. I live in fear every day over this and walk on eggshells. So no fuel and for self preservation.

      I never intended to travel this road and it is my last resort after trying everything else I’ve come to realize that in my situation as in many change is only for the worse and there’s no intention to change either as in their eyes they do nothing wrong. My wife actually said one night that she was 99.9% right all the time 😀 what an amazing women I married lol.

      My advice to all women and men is get out and avoid any conflict as it is perhaps exactly what I fear she wants so she can tell all we know I abused her, not to mention the financial implications if it went to a divorce court. Fortunately I made sure we have a legal seperation which includes a financial settlement and also harassment clauses.

      I am mentally and emotionally drained and broke down in work last week, which did not meet with a good response by colleagues. I was nicked and made a laughing stock as they think it’s work pressure and just the banter inside work. That is another story in itself sadly. I can only hope my blogs help others especially males to come forward for help.

      I am ashamed to be called a man when I hear such atrocities in our name. Believe me ladies these are not lovers or true men or women if they abuse. They are not as we were made and born to be! I always said a woman should be treated as a princess. If you are not then I question that relationship as good. Even with all my effort I failed and I am still struggling to be free. I have hopefully a short while to try and avoid conflict before I can be free, but inside there is a mountain to climb and healing to take place not to mention the mind to be reprogrammed including my actions and reactions to things. I feel a complete failure and not a man at all, if honest, and so unhappy inside.

      I write here in my car as I’m alone in this fight only a few know some of my plight and family. They have their own burdens and it’s hard for them to understand. So if you can seek outside professional help and inform your doctor. That way there’s always a record of things if ever needed. I write a lot in poem and songs and I encourage, if you can, do it. It helps me and let’s others including my doctors or counsellors see how I feel as its a rollercoaster ride at best times and mentally your mind is so all over the place. Remembering things ten minutes ago is tough let alone last week. Write and talk and get help especially a doctor/ abuse counsellor and if at all possible make no excuses and get out. It’s not easy believe me at the moment I’m actually fearing for my life as I do not trust what she might do once I actually hand keys back and remove my things.

      You are not alone in your struggle, there’s many if us regrettably, and this site has been an immense help and step to gaining my new life back. My heart and love goes out to you all in the struggle for answers and life again. I only hope this helps you and others.

      • StrugglingtobeFree,

        You said, “I write here in my car. . .” I understand. I think of the hours I spent in my car – avoiding going home. The last few weeks before my -ex and I separated I also spent hours away from the house when I knew he would be home to avoid conflict and to keep my wits about me.

        Then you said, “. . .as I’m alone in this fight.” Until it became public that I was filing for divorce I only told two people. Otherwise, no one knew – not even close family. As I look back on my situation I am more and more convinced that was a good decision. You may also not be able to tell many people, but I hope you can consider us here your “blog family”, and we are supporting you!

        As hard as this is right now, you are making wise, solid decisions. Well done!

      • Strugglingtobefree

        I do consider u family and I endeavoured to chance going home and only home five mins til it started again – first words to me for ten minutes pure abusive and slamming doors. Now if I did that I’d be seen as violent abusive and the police called for as I am ‘keeping her locked up in her room and mentally am using her and of course structurally wrecking the house’.

        I’d be fearful to stay so I’m grabbing some food as I’m starving not eaten all day and it’s now dinner time. I will grab some [food] that was cooked for later. Of course, it’s also a ploy as she was going to cook for once in blue moon and has told me to shove it. I’m going to (eds. reacted) again to dine out again !! Getting to be a habit this – oh the high life. You gotta laugh or you would go beserk defo

        Thanks for your encouragements. It helps as I thought I was being silly and friends think it’s stupid this carry on. I feel a prisoner when at home and yet can walk about and outside but not without a hefty price.

        Feel my day is just ruined and my night. Why can they not see this just makes us want all the more to hide and run and definitely not want to show love in return? My wife hates the fact I don’t love her, but how can I when this is what I am getting constantly – unless it suddenly suits her to be nice for a change. Jekyl and Hyde on n off all day and as my friend calms get cruella is now at home 😦

        thx for the voice – it helps and to know there’s life after. I hope I get to see that. I’d give anything just to have a loving friendly relationship, but I fear life’s passed me by, but it won’t ever happen while I’m like this.

        My old friends will be amazed that this guy has ended up like this. I’ve hidden away they all think I’m happy and enjoying life and have everything going for me. How little do they know I’m a good pretender.

      • No, you’re not being silly! You are courageously resisting the abuse!

        And, yes, there is life afterwards!

      • Strugglingtobefree

        Sorry for saying so much 😦 I don’t want to be a pain please forgive me 😬

      • No need to apologize. Venting is welcomed!

      • Hi Strugglingtobefree — no need to apologize. Most of us are victim/survivors ourselves, so we know that venting is essential sometimes.

      • Strugglingtobefree

        Hi Barbara thanks for saying
        I know it’s good but still I feel awful doing so. I am just home after spending 11 hours in my car just trying to avoid conflict and keep the peace.

        I’m needless to say very sore physically and mentally and feel terrible that I have to do it but needs must. I’m only glad there’s a service station near me I can go lie back and able to ‘rest up’ as it were without police moving me on. Thx for just being there for me as I need you

        Been a very tough last 3/4 weeks as things are coming to a head and my wife realises she has lost her control over me. It’s frightening as I feel if I stay around while the ‘tantrums’ play out and fuel that fire at this stage I feel it’s far too dangerous. I still get shivers from the last bug confrontation that was so close to violence and pointed to future harassment in my new home too. It really freaked me out as she stood towering over me as I lay in bed trying to drown out her voice and my eyes closed. When I looked up she was right over me yelling at me if scared the life out of me. I know I’m making the right decision. This site has so helped me to be armed with more than just my feelings and hurts etc., as I have scriptural and other help combined with my own doctor try to screaming at me get out. He is her own doctor too and knows only too well what’s going on.

        These have been such a help to me as dare I say it I fear I need to prove to others why I’m making this stand and why I am separating if only for my family’s sake.
        I know you get me as u been there really you are the only people who have made sense to me.

        Even my counsellor didn’t make sense if it all and sadly ten sessions is never going to see me right I felt that I was being left right at the toughest part of my separation and it took me near a year just to see a counsellor -crazy I made it quite clear I could have been dead in that time

        Thanks for being there for me I still just feel it’s right to say sorry anyways that’s my downfall I say sorry so much I get told off often but I’d rather be njce than harsh n hard hearted that she will never take away from me !!

  41. Strugglingtobefree

    Thanks. Dining in my car again on a Saturday night oh what fun …. Not but sure. I will try n be strong but at times feel so down I don’t think I’ll make it.

    I’m just very fearful for when I do leave and as it were ‘come out’ as I know a lot in Religious circles made life hell for me when I asked for help. My father went ballistic when they effectively put me out of church leadership and the one thing I was holding on to and keeping me sane that if just getting in with leading worship and the things entrusted to me.

    I fear for my work relationships as my boss let it slip I was moving and it’s been a lot of nosey into my business and constant quizzing and when I broke down they mocked me and made fun of me. Now I’m being belittled and receiving abusive remarks in the workplace. Last week after one person pretended to be nice and wanted to find out what was wrong and I wouldn’t tell him but he saw I was visibly upset, cut a very nasty thing out if a newspaper and stuck it to my jacket. I know they are trying to be funny but at the time it was terribly hurtful and offensive but I know they will crucify me if they find out i’ve split with my wife.

    I’m just in a terrible place at the moment and my best friend who has seen me through all this and helped me has now abandoned me at the last hurdle and I get the feeling that they just can’t be bothered with all the drama. That hurts so much so I’ve No one really.

    I’ve asked my family if I can come and stay a while with them tonight and they don’t want to know. This is why I write it – gets it all out of me rather than bottled up inside. I’d have exploded by now and I know from past experience that’s not good.

    I just feel a failure. I’ve counselled many in my youth and kids work for years and even then still did not fully see this as abuse simply because of the Asperger situation. That was only diagnosed 6 years ago and has been used ever since to beat me up with so to speak. Before that I just felt it was my duty for better for worse and as a Christian to endure hardship as a good soldier if Christ and as Jesus did despite persecution to love and honorr, which was terrible as my heart was definitely not there and I felt such a sinner.

    I was told I was cursed according to the scriptures because I didn’t love my wife and that I was going to be a curse to everyone around me and any wonder the church was struggling and wasn’t seeing the revival promised to us when such as me was in leadership and any wonder there were problems continually with a few regarding the worship ( traditional vs Pentecostal ).

    I just have failed everyone and let so many down. I was very popular with most and a blessing to many so I’m told and when I left they were angry and upset as I’ve been there since early childhood. They have given me a hard time often and we battled through a lot if issues but I have failed them and many who trained me. I just cannot face them and others I ministered too countrywide. I just feel that they don’t understand and seemingly here it’s strong don’t divorce and even when I asked so if you are being abused over and over again your losing your mind and feel dead what is your response.

    And I was told it’s what God says you must have hope and trust him to heal your wife and that I needed to be stronger and I’ve been doing everything in my own strength. It just beggars belief as often I felt through 20 years it was just me and God. It was only when Barbara mentioned spiritual abuse I realized I’ve been enduring that for years struggling to wonder why my prayers where never answered and totally ignored when cried for help. Until she made sure she was going to destroy the last thing I had and paraded into church just before [a] service and announced me as an abuser and that I was leaving her as I didn’t love her. This met with extreme anger and the above resulted and my life was destroyed overnight and I tried explaining and I wasn’t even listened to. My father went crazy as leader in the church and my mother both highly respected and spoke for me but still never any apology or reinstigated. Just a well if you want to come u can. We don’t know enough about these matters.

    So I do not trust many and have had no choice but to be quiet and struggle to be free basically with little support. My family give me some but have a lot of their own problems and some still cannot see past the religious beliefs and I know they do not agree with me as their view if divorce and marriage is strong and in my opinion wrong but I won’t sway them. I still get ‘just remember your vows’ and it hurts deeply. I feel so abused and controlled by them as a middle aged man being treated as a child. Yet like tonite when I’ve asked for support and help I got none. They don’t want to give it unless they feel in control of me. That saddens me.

    So here I am in my car and hurting bad inside as I feel the very ones who are my family don’t care and that sadly to me is very unchristian. They shall know us by our love. Well, seems love doesn’t exist only to those easy to deal with and I’m a nightmare and as my friend says ‘always a drama.’ Yet can’t see I’ve supported them through some horrendous situations inc rape. I thought now if anyone they would get it but nope they don’t.

    I’m in agony – shoulders and neck for 6 months now – and doctor tells me it’s stress related as my painkillers make no difference. Anyways I just am a mess and a failure. Rub me out n start again lol.
    Sometimes I wonder is my wife right and I am mental and the crazy one.

    Thx for listening. I’m just really sad tonight.

  42. T

    I am just past my teens and I have autism/aspergers and my mom verbally and physically abuses me what should I do ?

  43. Emily

    Hi Barbara, I just found this resource recently and I thought it was spot on..maybe it will help someone else. http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/married-with-undiagnosed-autism-why-women-who-leave-lose-twice-0420164#comment-399347

    • Thanks Emily
      I’ve read the post at that link. I think it could be helpful to our readers so I’m publishing your comment. I just want to add a few comments, some of which are caveats:
      The author of the post says that couple counseling can be helpful in marriages where one spouse is diagnosed on the autism spectrum disorder and the other spouse is neuro-typical. As our readers know, we do not recommend couple counseling on this blog, but we are not experts in ASD so what the author of that post is saying may have more expertise than we have because the author specialises in counseling people with ASD and their partners and family members.

      The author of the post talks a lot about the immense pain a woman can have when she are married to a man who has undiagnosed ASD. I think she is spot on, and many commenters on the thread of that post agree, because they say they’ve had that kind of painful experience.

      The author of the post makes the point that whether abuse is intentional or unintentional, it is still abuse and still hurtful to the person being abused. This is one of the really good aspects of her post, IMO.

      In the comments thread on that post, the post’s author mentions codependency. I’ve submitted a comment there informing her about our belief that codependency is not an appropriate term to apply to victims of relationship abuse.

      In the comments thread there is a comment by Carol G, praising the post. I know Carol G a little, by email, and I never had any concerns about her. I think the support group she runs in Australia is probably very helpful to neuro-typical women who are or have been married to ASD men.

    • I agree there is no co-dependency on the part of neurotypicals married to an adult with ASD.
      The person with ASD chose and groomed the unwitting neurotypical (NT) because of their independence which serves the needs of the person with ASD very well.

      There are published results of a world-wide survey of relationship experiences of neurotypicals partnered with someone with ASD on http://www.theneurotypical.com home page. Results are surprising and show the common destructive patterns involved in these dysfunctional relationships: the failure of current counselling methods to help either party long term in any way and how the lifestyle for the NT is one of constant domestic abuse. All of which remains unacknowledged by professionals. The survey also supports the notion of peer to peer mentoring as the best support for the NT. The facilitator of the website has been in an almost three decade long marriage to a man diagnosed at age 50 with ASD.

      Keep up the great work having these vital debates. It’s often the only voice we have. Thank you.

      • Dear readers, I’ve published this comment and the link it contains after having only briefly scanned the material on that link. My brief scan didn’t raise any red flags, but readers please be aware that I don’t have the time or expertise (nor is it likely that any of the ACFJ team would have the time or expertise) to evaluate that site fully.

        Thank you Judith for affirming that there is no co-dependency on the part of neurotypicals married to an adult with ASD.:)

      • Emily

        Thanks for picking up on the co-dependency issue…great point. In my case, my spouse was diagnosed and I think our marital counseling actually accelerated the abuse. But I loved her point about running from a burning building, regardless of the cause. I felt affirmed in what I have believed all along, that the effects of the ASD abuser are the same as any other abuse without an official diagnosis. I have read similar things in a book by Lundy Bancroft. The article also makes me thankful that I didn’t stay, since my children were definitely observing how dad treats mom and I didn’t want them to think that was acceptable at all…thank you for the additional link, Judith – I will certainly check it out!

  44. AnonymousJ

    My spouse has a diagnosis of autism. For me it explained his behaviour towards me. I still co habit with him. But that is all it is. I keep away from him as much as I can. He isn’t physically abusive but emotionally stone cold. Before we married he seemed besotted with me once married that person disappeared and has never come back. He is always angry and irritable. No love sympathy or empathy. He managed to not speak to me and completely avoided me on my birthday even tho we went out for tea with my parents. He can’t do conversation. I have brought my children up in a loveless joyless house filled with anger and coldness. I’m building up the strength and resources to live alone. He knows this and it doesn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. He’s been looking at houses he can move to. I do everything for us plan book organise administer the kids and our lives. But I have so much guilt. Breaking up the family leaving someone with a disability thinking is he that bad. The truth is I don’t love him. It ended. He has made no effort to be the man I married. That man never came back and I don’t love the one who replaced him. It’s horrible to say it but I will. His behaviour to me has made him unloveable. There is nothing to love in anger coldness and indifference. I can love my autistic son for it because my love for him is unconditional but my spouse made vows to me. I do believe even with the autism effort could be made but he simply won’t bother. Since his diagnosis it’s me who has done all the reading and finding out about it. Pushed him to go to councelling. But he won’t. There’s no easy answer. What it must be like to be loved and wanted by ur spouse. To be able to laugh with them talk to them.
    I beg god to help me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      AnonymousJ – We changed your screen name for purposes of protecting your identity. Some people are, as it has been said, “Unavailable for Relationship.” It would be so helpful if they had a great big stamp saying just that on their forehead, but they don’t. I suspect that the person he seemed to be before you were married was a fictional character that never truly existed because it was just an act on his part. Over and over again we are told by victims of abuse that very thing – “On the honeymoon it was like I was now married to a totally different person than the one I thought he was.” So, no guilt necessary on your part. A person like this habitually and regularly violates, then destroys, the marriage covenant. Actually it sounds like the marriage vows by him were made falsely and never kept at all.

      • AnonymousJ

        Thanks Jeff. I feel so much guilt. Could I be more understanding love him more ? I truly don’t think he is a bad person. He tries to be a good dad but his anger gets in the way. He would do anything for the kids he drives them around he helps around the house but he won’t address the other issues. It was me who pushed him to get the autism diagnosis. But now he won’t seek councelling or medication. When I told him it was over there was no flicker of emotion. He just said he’d look for somewhere else to live. I feel so sorry that he will never know what a full relationship could be but he is closed to it. I’m hoping if we seperate he may come to treat me as he seems to everyone else in his life. In other words abit better with more respect.

      • GratefulBeliever

        If I may chime in as a wife who has Asperger’s, there are essentially two “flavors” of this type of autism when it comes to social activities: those who have no interest in social interaction and those who very much want to interact socially, have friends, etc., but have trouble doing so. It sounds to me like your husband falls under the first category, but it’s also possible for depression and stress to “flip” a socially oriented Aspie to isolationist.

        THATSAID: I absolutely agree that he deceived you into believing he was something that he isn’t, and I am very sorry that this is happening to you. Keep making the next right choice for you, and for your kids.

  45. Gothard Survivor

    AnonymousJ– your story could be mine except there has been sexual and spiritual abuse as well and he was not there for the kids even if they were hospitalized. I can’t believe i have found someone who understands! I feel so much guilt for thinking about leaving someone with a disability. Thank you for posting!

  46. Anita

    So I have been with my parter for over 4 years, he has been digosed with Aspergers and ADHD at a very young age and takes medication to try and calm him down a little, I find it extremely hard to be with him, I love him more than anything and I really do try my best to be a supporting girlfriend. He has got a lot of problems and he really does straggle to control himself. I am normally the person that calms him down or stop him from lashing out at people however sometimes when we have a disagreement, it could be over something so little he can get very aggressive! While he physically and mentally abused me, he genuinely feels so bad about it, he cries his eyes out, hurts himself, asks for help to stop him and then begs me for forgiveness. Sometimes it could get really out of hand and I do sometimes walk out with marks on my body but I just feel like there is nothing I can do about it. I know it’s not acceptable and I know that he knows that too, every time he does it, I can see in his eyes that it’s killed him a little inside hurting me! He says when it happens he can’t control it he just sees red and attacks, he can’t hear anything I’m saying or doing apparently, I wish I could tell what’s really going through his head. Our relationship is wonderful any other time, which makes it so hard for me. The doctors know about it and they done nothing we are just waiting for his GP to put him on antidepressants, which is what they think will help. I would love to hear from other victims on how they are dealing with it! I do love my boyfriend and I do not want to leave him plus I know that it will absolutely kill him if I do so. I want to help him and help us, I just don’t know how to go about it.

    • Anita, I don’t think there is much the doctors can do about it. Anti-depressants may not help. I wouldn’t put much hope in that route.

      It sounds to me like his ‘I’m sorry’ behaviour is just a way of getting you back and keeping you with him after he’s abused you. He will claim that he REALLY MEANS IT when he says he’s sorry, and his eyes and tears may look so genuine, but the fact is, he does it (the abuse) again and again and again so his feeling sorry is not making him change his future behaviour. I strongly suggest you consider stepping back from this relationship. You are carrying all the weight for him and he loves it so — you’ll eventually get sick and tired of carrying the weight for him. And the longer you stay the harder it will be for you do disentangle and disengage because you’ll be more exhausted by his conduct.

      I spoke to a man recently who is very experienced in running behaviour change programs for abusive men. He said that in his observation, if an abusive man in his behaviour change group is ‘on the spectrum’ (autism spectrum disorder) he probably won’t change from being abusive to non-abusive. Aspergers is a condition on of the autism spectrum disorder.

      Not all people who are on the autism spectrum are abusive. But if a person on the spectrum also has an abuse problem, he will almost certainly never change from being abusive.

      I encourage you to read this post of ours: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/08/01/dont-fall-for-the-abusers-repentance-lessons-from-zacchaeus/

      And I’m guessing you are not a Christian. If so, may I encourage you to explore what Christianity is about? (not the church institution, but real Christianity which is having a personal relationship with God 🙂 ).

      Here are three video presentations which explain the basics of Christianity. They’re not at all boring. They are titled Religion is for Fools.

      Part 1 — What is the proof?

      Part 2 — What difference does it make?

      Part 3 — Questions and answers

    • By the way, welcome to the blog Anita! We’re glad to have you here.

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      • GratefulBeliever

        Hi there. It saddens me to see these comments, especially as a survivor of abuse myself. I’m a bit concerned that someone casually reading the thread would conclude that all people with Aspergers are abusive. Therefore, I offer myself as an example of someone with Aspergers who not only ISN’T abusive but is in a very happy, healthy marriage with a neurotypical spouse. God bless you as you heal and recover.

      • Thanks, GratefulBeliever
        We agree with you that not all people with Aspergers are abusive. We tried to make that clear in the post, but someone casually reading the thread might not hear that. So thanks for cautioning people not to think that all people who have Aspergers are abusive. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Anita, my (now adult) son was diagnosed with MANY different personality disorders throughout his childhood including autism spectrum disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. In the end they finally realized he was simply a psychopath.

      I have no idea what this would have meant to my family if I’d had this information earlier, but like all the truths I’ve learned about God, the bible and psychology–once all the erroneous lies and falsehoods were exposed–I could then deal with truth and reality. And this meant I could eventually make decisions that were healthy–for myself AND the many psychopaths in my life. (My husband, most of my children and both his and my family have a high percentage of psychopaths.) I come from a family with many like him–the same happy-go-lucky, endearing quality that he displays on camera but they are really evil.

      I don’t know if this will help you to see if there is a pattern or a cycle of abuse but keep a journal of dates and times and what type of violence he used or things he said etc. And if it is safe for you to do so, don’t try to soothe him after these episodes–let him take responsibility for his actions. This is not for HIM–this is for YOU. You are the one looking for help and this means that you are looking for some kind of truth in order to help. Who did your job in his life before you? If they are still around you may want to ask them about things and you may realize you are selling your life to someone who will not even care or notice how much he’s harmed you. This is sadly the case for many of us here on ACFJ.

      By the way it’s often the most highly empathetic people with the highest moral standards that end up in relationships with these abusers so don’t get down on yourself. And even if he isn’t a full-blown psychopath, as you research relationships and how psychopaths manipulate their loved ones, you may find some helpful information still. Barb gave some great information and again, as you start researching you may discover much wisdom and knowledge that can help you in all your relationships–not just this one–so it’s time well-spent.

    • Anonymous

      ““If, instead, you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath.”
      ― Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door

  47. Lonely Lady

    I am married to a man that I believe to have Aspergers. We have children, the oldest has a diagnosis.

    I feel very isolated by my husbands behaviour. I have sought help for domestic abuse in the past, but what they were describing didn’t fit my situation at all and it really didn’t help. I’m worried about the affect of both his behaviour and my Aspergers child on my NT child, long term. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to leave, I want him to get a diagnosis and for someone to tell him (besides me) that his behaviour is wrong.

    I’ve tried everywhere and can’t find anyone who can understand but after many years, I finally had a full emotional breakdown and I can’t spend my life managing his moods and behaviour anymore. I’m sick of stepping in and coaching him to parent when he thinks he knows best and has no real interest in reading about how he is affecting us. He spends whole days sulking, refusing to speak to anyone or help out at all. When he does help out, he claims “he has to do everything” and seemingly wants a medal for normal domestic chores. He shouts, uses bad language and throws things.

    I’m trapped and losing my own identity.

    • Lonely Lady,

      Welcome to the blog! We like to encourage new commenters to read the New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

  48. Lonely Lady

    I should also probably note that my husband was a victim of abusive from his biological mother and siblings. He was completely rejected by them for being “different” and no effort was made to understand or help him.

    I do worry about how my Aspergers child will be in relationships. The child is very volatile and controlling. I have spent many hours reading up and trying to help, as well as unconditional love , I hope that’s enough.

    • Anonymous

      I should also probably note that my husband was a victim of abusive from his biological mother and siblings. He was completely rejected by them for being “different” and no effort was made to understand or help him.

      Many of us were…yet those here seeking help don’t display the boo-hoo / woe is me behavior that your husband does. Are YOU allowed to behave this way?

      Although this may be true (that he was singled out for abuse)–it doesn’t matter one iota to you in regards to how you handle your life. What he is or isn’t, if he was abused or wasn’t abused—YOU are the one seeking help and all you can do is deal with YOUR reality right now.

      Martha Stout writes about sociopaths and she points out four identifiers with the big winner being the “pity play.” “(You owe me,” “Keep my secrets,” “We’re the same,” are the others.) What you wrote about your partner whining and feeling sorry for himself is so typical and classic and it’s what underlies his entire personality — it’s his motivation for everything — to gain pity.

      This seems to be what motivates all true abusers (which is ultimately to gain power over others and for themselves) with the prime example being displayed by their father the devil. He is CONSTANTLY feeling sorry for himself…in the garden, when trying to destroy Job, tempting Jesus. “BOODY-HOOOO. If only I had all the power I deserve as the super hot, smart and clever Being that I am! I wouldn’t have to come to YOU God and I would then be happy! Woe is me God, I only have power in this world and time, but YOU think you’re so much better than me! If you gave me all the control I desire, you’d see that I too could be benevolent–all my unhappiness is due to you / or my demons / or weak humans keeping me from being the god I should rightfully be!” (Stomping little hoof…) “It’s all YOUR fault, or that stupid woman’s, or that I didn’t even HAVE a mother! That’s it God! If you’d given me a mother like Jesus had, I could’ve been as famous as Him!” “So see God, just give me everything I want when–no BEFORE–I want it, and you will see just how awesome I am!”

      This website is full of great information and can help you while you are making new and hard decisions about how to best move forward and do what’s best for you and your children. Your husband will likely never change but even if he does, it won’t be because you were empathetic to his needs. After all, haven’t you been this way for a long time now and has it positively changed him? … You are heard and understood here at ACFJ and are deeply cared for, so feel like you can start thinking of yourself and what’s best for you…

  49. Summer

    Hi I’m a woman with aspergers syndrome and I read this blog and really had to comment as I do completely understand as I myself have been a victim of rape and domestic abuse all my life and I understand this situation quite well, as I do believe men or indeed anyone who hits and is controlling is …. showing appropriate behaviour.

    Of coarse we aspies are not all abusive and some of us are more likely to become victims ourselves … if a person confided in me that her autistic husband was being physically abusive especially told me she was afraid to leave because her husband has aspergers, I as an autistic woman would have to say leave him! As we do know right from wrong we can and do have normal lives and have jobs and as we want to be treated as equal and fight for our equality. Just as our disability has be used against us, as has been my situation for decades, we shouldn’t be allowed to use our disability to get away with some of the worst crimes imaginable.

    In my relationship my autism would be used against me if I stood up against my abusive partner I would often get but you don’t understand you have autism your opinion does not count as your not right in the head etc .I hated it total gaslighting funny cause am already a bit odd lol.

    As someone who feels we should be treated equally I would say leave this man […] as we aspies get older we do learn how to behave. Many people out there will judge you for being with a disabled person like me so I wouldn’t worry about them judging you for leaving them, as either way you should not be judged for choosing to be with a disabled person you must not ever be judged for leaving them.

    I find it so sad that some people feel this way and it is very unfair that an abusive man who can find a million reasons to exploit you could use something like this, it’s also upsetting as victims of domestic violence are often judged by some idiot out there. I understand that a person may have mental health issues but you have to protect your mental health too and if your partner has no insight to his/her behaviour they cannot be saved.

    I have autism but I do have insight honestly I do have some lol I know what I’m like and I always make my family and my fiance’s needs a priority I would never be happy if my routines effected theirs. As a person with aspergers I’m grateful in some ways that I was not diagnosed till later as I’ve had it harder — I’ve had to learn you cannot have it all your own way. If your child or partner did not have autism you would never let them away with so much stuff. I used to have melt downs as a child when I could not handle my school bullys and was determined I’m not going to school but of coarse mum made sure I went whereas dad felt if I didn’t want to go I shouldn’t have to, like as a toddler you go through this is mind faze everything I want is mine lol — you teach your children no it’s not. I know that autism is not that straightforward it’s challenging but we are normal people who sometimes need to be challenged like you would with other children and adults.

    I seen your post and I had to speak as recently I seen in the news a multi millionaire who murdered his escort mistress and blamed his autism to get off with the crime; it angers me as this man clearly premeditated this murder, also you’re autistic but you’re a multi millionaire come on you’re not an idiot surely sir! It’s insulting to good hearted aspies out there who just want to get by and live normal lives without our autism being brought into everything we do. I just hate the attitude of oh they can’t help it and to some extent yes it’s true we forget people’s feelings sometimes we don’t realize you may be upset about something unless you directly tell us, yes we can be selfish and have strange interests and forget you don’t want to listen a whole day of our favourite things. But violence crime exploitation of other people’s feelings just because ‘I like my life to be led this way’ or ‘I want this or I want that but what about me’ crap.

    Of coarse autism is not because of bad parenting but parents need to be aware your autistic child will grow up may have to work will probably definitely get married reproduce so they need to be taught or made aware of some basic relationship lessons. We are straightforward people so be straight forward and teach some boundaries for everyone’s safety.

    I personally say as I have experienced it first hand — you see my father has autism and was not diagnosed until his 50’s; we no longer speak as he is aggressive obsessive and controlling. My mother had to leave him as she was afraid for her life at times he would break her stuff, go mad if we were ever late for anything, would threaten to kill us, drive recklessly, would beat up our family dog, would lock us in, and would not allow me to spend time with friends. He also would not take a job and resented my mother for working 14 hour shifts for basically emasculating him for doing the man’s job and not cleaning the house and cooking him dinner at the same time because her job did not end till 8 at night he did not want a wife and daughter he wanted staff.

    My parents have been divorced for nearly ten years. Sometimes he blames me for their divorce. He treated my mum like dirt but now confesses how much he loves her something he never told me until she was gone. He never called her his wife until they split up. For years he told me my mother hated me and that he hated her. I consider my dad a very dangerous man who was also abused as a child but he has never been taught boundaries at all and I believe it is partly due to his upbringing with a combination of autism. I get angry when people with autism become abusive spouses or awful parents and use it as an excuse, what chance does it give me when I become a mother? To me it’s lazy and reckless! It’s an insult to good people as autism if you have it will come into everything. I know people say it doesn’t but it does. People will treat us differently always whether we’re treated as potentially weaker or more vulnerable I would hate to see us be seen as people considered a Risk to others because of autism and sadly I say this but I can’t help but think it too if autism is not handled correctly early unfortunately.

    I’m now engaged and want children but I really do worry how people view me as autistic mother and wife. Many of my cousins are autistic they were all diagnosed very young I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 15 lol — my cousins would get away with all sorts from lacking general manners being mean and of course inappropriate like flat out saying things like your fat your house is horrible now I’m older and understand autism better I do understand why they behaved like this because they had no filter yet if you retaliated all hell would break lose complete melt downs and whilst when I had my social slip ups I was always corrected and do find social situations stressful now especially as I’ve grown up always thinking way before I speak weighing up is that appropriate or not. I had not seen my cousins for 8 years and met with them a few months ago I was so confused they were still the same incredibly abusive — reminding me I was the weird one this that and whatever, and I was like um you guys are weird too and odd.

    As I’ve grown up mostly everyone I meet now does not believe I have aspergers and I believe it’s because I was not allowed to get away with things. I was taught manners and to think before you speak, and I was taught that if someone is upset by what you say or do then imagine if it was said to you how would you interpret how would I feel — and this method is how I get by lol.

    Of course there’s no cure for autism and I don’t want there to be but if I have a child with autism they will all be treated equally to their nt [neuro-typical] siblings as I’ve seen the damage it can do and be taught to respect each other. It is important to be told off corrected when you have hurt someone’s feelings, it’s not a good attitude if all you have to say is “They’re autistic, what can we do?” It’s not good for anyone especially if you’re the autistic individual. I’m not saying we need to be changed or fixed but we need guidance for later in life in case someone else tells us off — better coming from a parent rather than a friend a partner or God forbid a police officer.

    It will always be hard for people like me to completely understand others but we need to learn early on that other people’s feelings are important even if you just can’t see why. I probably sound silly but as someone who has been bullied and harassed for years by my autistic family not knowing I was also on the same spectrum.

    I can honestly understand the fear of leaving [an abuser]. For me, my mum would say “I know it hurts but they have autism” and I would say “me too tho” and as a victim of two abusive partners both Neuro typical I can honestly say do not let disability be another thing that keeps you held in abusive relationship for another second. In many ways it’s frightening and slightly insulting to not leave because of it.

    We aspies are just people. For years I had one boyfriend tell me “You always use your autism as an excuse for this that and whatever” — it was honestly not true. I thought I was going mad as I do rely on others to tell me what is and isn’t if that makes sense lol. So thinking his behaviour and attitude towards me was normal, confiding in friends and being told “Honey, he’s wrong” was so unbelievably hard. It’s sad as victims of abuse are always somewhat brainwashed for a while — can you imagine being in my shoes? I hope this has not upset anyone sorry for the incredibly long reply.

    • Dear Summer
      I think your long reply will be very very helpful for many of our readers.

      My only request is — Please use more punctuation and put in lots of paragraph breaks when submitting comments on this blog. You comment had no paragraph breaks and very little punction, so to make it understandable and easier to read I added a lot of punctuation and breaks. I hope I added those things in sensible places. Please read your published comment and see if I did a reasonable job. 🙂

      And when adding paragraph breaks, it helps if you make it a TWO-line break.

      • Lilly

        Seriously! A person talks about thier trauma from a hate crime and you want to criticize them for something so petty as grammer? I think your empathy is lacking plus how disrespectful and obviously you have self love issues to be so critical.

      • Hi Lilly

        In my reply to Summer I don’t think I was criticising her grammar; I was only asking her to use more punctuation and paragraph breaks in any future comments she may submit to this blog.

        When Summer’s comment came in to this blog, the moderators put it ‘on hold’ for several days until I had time to edit it by adding punctuation and paragraph breaks. It was on hold for several days.

        During those days, Summer might easily have been wondering why her comment wasn’t published. She might even have been quite upset that her comment had not been published. I was simply giving her some tips, so that she could avoid a repeat of that scenario. I wasn’t criticising her.

        As one of the comment moderators at this blog, I do things like this pretty often. It’s part of my work of trying to help all of our readers.

        If I had published Summer’s comment in its original form, I bet that most of our readers would never have bothered reading it because it was such dense text.

        And I reject your claim that by me saying this to Summer, it shows I have ‘self love issues’.

      • Lilly

        I apologize I jumped the gun on this one. I too am a victim of abuse and have a very high tendency to want to protect others and I misinterpreted your reply.

      • Thanks Lilly, I accept your apology. 🙂

        And I honour your zeal to protect other victims of abuse. 🙂

      • Lilly

        Sure, I’m autistic with complex PTSD from being abused by people. I was married to an unknown narcissist psychopath and I was abused by a therapist for trying to get help for social skills. The therapist thought I didn’t have feelings but I’m an empath. It’s very hard to live in this world. Autistic individuals have a challenging time in life and in essences I just wanted to protect because every movement, every thought, every retrieval process takes ten times longer then someone with your brain. We’re or I’m not quick on my feet and with the way my brain functions neurotypical people have the upper hand in life that’s a fact.so that is why I protected her.

      • Thanks for giving me more insight into what it can be like being on the autism spectrum, Lilly. I really appreciate it.

        I was married to an unknown narcissist psychopath and I was abused by a therapist for trying to get help for social skills. The therapist thought I didn’t have feelings but I’m an empath. I

        How absolutely awful! That therapist needs to be reprimanded and sent back to school to learn more about autism!

    • Moving Forward

      Summer – Thanks for taking the time to explain autism from an insider’s perspective. I have a nephew with autism, whom I no longer see as he is on the ex’s side of the family, but when he was little and undiagnosed I could see how poorly he was treated by others who had no patience with him. I’m no one special, but I did sympathize with him and was willing to take the time to do the repetitive things he wanted to do, and was glad I did when a little later he was diagnosed as being autistic.

      My grammar and punctuation is fine, but I understand letting the thoughts flow and not using any. Not everyone was taught to type in a formal way. However, I did have to be reminded by Barbara to put in the paragraph breaks, and I appreciated that. It was also helpful to see the exchange between Lilly and Barbara – to see a misunderstanding worked through in full in a respectful way. My ex never allowed me that privilege, so now, on the rare occasions, even like this, when I have had someone actually apologize for a wrong tone or wording of something they said, it brings tears to my eyes, and my response helps me to see how hurt I have been. I feel like I have no idea what it is like to have a real relationship with someone, and it means so much to get a glimpse, and learn from it.

      • Lilly

        What I know is from my neurotypical dad. Everything in life I learned from him as he used to be a general manager and salesman.

        Barbera, the therapist was investigated by the hospital. She abused me emotionally so badly I received ego decompensation from her, amnesia, and dissociations. She actually should have been fired because she used my disabilities as how I took to her wrongly. I didn’t. She’s number 12 of therapist I’ve seen since 15 and I’m in my 30’s. I lost my job, townhome, and mental health. More so my dignity was taken from me three years ago and it damaged my hippocampus. These are medically documented.

        I hope people realize that it’s all about personality and genetics in abusers not disabilities.

      • WOW! I’m glad the therapist was investigated but I’m annoyed that she wasn’t fired.

        Thank you so much for sharing all the ways the abuse has harmed you. What a list. And to get it medically documented as well! You must have been incredibly dedicated and persevering to get it documented like that! I take my hat off to you! You deserve multiple medals for how many ways you have tried to maintain your dignity and personhood in the face of all that mistreatment. 🙂

      • Lilly

        Thanks but no I don’t deserve anything honesty. I just went to another doctor who documented it like normal.

      • OkAY!

      • Lilly

        I’m happy for you and I hope and pray you continue to receive healing from your experience. Life is very hard for everyone. I also hope you are able to overcome it and find love.

  50. AspienWoman

    Hi there Barbara,

    This is a great site you’ve got here. Lots of interesting information. I was just wondering, do you have a post dedicated to those with ASD who are on the receiving end of the abuse? Not only does ASD make us far more vulnerable to being abused, but the stereotype that we are more likely to be the abusers means we are less likely to be believed about our abuse.

    • Hi AspienWoman, welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We don’t have a post dedicated to those with ASD who are on the receiving end of abuse; but we do have a tag for Learning Disabilities, and some posts with that tag do discuss that topic.

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      BTW, in accordance with our policy about links in comments, I removed the link you’d given in your comment.

      • Lilly

        I can see how autistics can be taken advantage of because of their naiveness with people. I can’t tell when people are lying to me. Even the abuse happened with the therapist because I was directed to go to her by a family friend of the narcissist and I was lied to about the narcissist. I was told he was a good man at [age early 20s]. I was in the hospital for days where I almost died because of the gaslighting he used. And he had me move there not knowing a soul. I almost killed myself. So I was stuck in the middle of people that were dangerous and I wasn’t able to put two and two together that they didn’t care like I did.

        I get Barbara you have had a horrible experience with an individual with autism and I’m sorry that he was abusive to you. I don’t think leaving someone with disabilities makes you a horrible person. It’s all based on preferences. Planning is tough for me too. I can’t remember things most of the time either. It doesn’t matter what it is autistic people can’t plan well it’s the way are brain is designed. Your brain holds everything in one compartment where I know mine is scattered throughout it and I have to piece it together. My brain moves slower than the pace of this world.

        I appreciated the medal part. I just wanted to be well again and to get justice from the therapist’s abuse. I’m a person who sees and feels just like you do. I’m a daughter, granddaughter, niece, aunt, friend, sister and cousin. I experience everything like you and connect and relate to people just like you can. 😉

      • Hi Lilly, actually I have not had a horrible experience of a person with autism. I have only heard stories from other abuse survivors whose abusers were on the autism spectrum.

        Thanks for sharing — at this blog we like to prioritise the voices of all survivors of abuse. 🙂

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