My AACC Presentation – And Some Survey Results

I’m not going to go into great detail about the survey I asked for help with (although if you’re willing to participate still – and you don’t have to be autistic – please do!), but I will give some general findings so far:

  • Most of us (autistics) have been abused. This aligns with research, and, as expected.
  • About half of us (autistics) who have had an intimate relationship have been abused by someone in an intimate relationship. I’m not yet aware of research on this.
  • Non-autistics also have seen a lot of abuse, although it’s not as common – their numbers are about half of that of the autistic population.  This aligns with research.
  • A substantial portion of us identify as having a non-binary gender identity. This aligns with research.
  • A substantial portion of women identify as bi, asexual, or other non-heterosexual.  Substantial enough that heterosexual is a minority among autistic women. This is a somewhat surprising finding, although it was expected that non-straight people were more common among autistics, particularly autistic women.  It’s a bit inconclusive for the men so far. There’s some research on this, but it’s also inconclusive (for both men and women).

I’ll put some more results out in a while – I’m still hoping for more responses to the survey.  I really appreciate people taking the time to take the survey and leave comments on it – the comments in particular have been helpful as I prepare the talk. The more people that comment, the more interesting the results will be for the entire community!

At AACC 2014, I’m going to be presenting, “Dont touch me there: Intimacy for Autistic Abuse Survivors.” This will talk about both sexual and non-sexual intimate relationships (obviously for people who want an intimate relationship – not everyone needs to want this), with a focus on techniques, tips, and ways of managing intimacy for people who have faced abuse that may make intimacy difficult. We’ll also talk about our rights in relationships – what things can we expect to have in a relationship with a non-abusive partner. I’m also going to talk about some partner issues for people with abuse – such as the common fear in partners that they’ll do something that reminds the survivor of past abuse, which is certainly not what any loving partner wants to do. I’m also going to include topics on autistic differences, as for autistic abuse survivors, both autism and abuse impact what makes an intimate relationship enjoyable to us. I hope to be respectful of differences people have in religious background, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

I’m really looking forward to this because I feel this is a topic that’s critical for us. We have a lot of hurt people who want to have intimacy (sexual or non-sexual) with other people, but find it difficult because of what has been done to them in the past.

I also recognize that this is only one piece of the puzzle – finding someone for a relationship is another key piece of the puzzle, but I’m not going to spend much time on that, since I don’t have many tips of things you can do (other than being yourself and finding completeness in yourself).

So, if you end up at AACC 2014, I’d love to see you at this presentation. And I certainly would love to know what types of things you’ve found helpful in intimate relationships if you’ve been abused (or even if you just have autism). What techniques or tips or advice do you have for others who might have difficulty in a relationship because of abuse or autism?

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One Response to My AACC Presentation – And Some Survey Results

  1. mtaheny1 says:

    1. I think your tips are probably relevant for anyone, whether autistic or not. The trauma a person experiences may have different ways of manifesting, but the ways to negotiate it seem to be managed better by autistic people than the general population. Perhaps this is because the general population use self-deception to mitigate the hurt, whereas autistic survivors of abuse look at it straight in the face, acknowledge it and they seem to be more willing to learn from it. Actually, as a group, your way is far more mentally healthy.

    2. I suspect (and it is only a suspicion.,..research on autistic adults is horribly limited) the reason relationship abuse may happen more frequently in the autism community may be for the same reason that number 1 exists: You trust until you find you have a reason not to trust. The NT population seems to operate from the opposite position many times.

    I, as a mother of a wonderful 12 year old autistic boy who is my teacher and my constant delight, would be very reluctant to teach my son to be cynical of others, because his gift to the world is showing the world how to be honest and how to trust. Instead, I would strongly encourage relationships that are among people who are like him, such as the disabled community or someone who knows the value of trust. When a person trusts another, they give them a gift. However, the one receiving the gift must have the capacity to appreciate that gift. There are ways to know who is likely to exploit your trust, and you can identify these markers quite easily. Look up sociopaths and narcissists. These two types are the most likely to exploit those who trust, while pretending to be in a loving relationship with you.

    As a future clinical psychologist (1 year away) I would encourage you to follow the path you are on. However, there may be a few shortcuts along the way that can be found. Best wishes!