In the last several years I’ve watched many of my Autistic friends get out of bad or abusive relationships. The majority of these relationships lasted for over a decade or even two. It is such a sad thing to me that my friends were in abusive relationships for so many years and their situations have been on my mind a fair amount lately.
It occurred to me, while thinking about my friends’ abusive relationships, that being disabled in a way that causes us to be often misinterpreted as being assholes to other people could predispose us to make excuses and give extra chances to actual assholes who often end up harming us. We seem to be more likely to end up in abusive relationships than our non-autistic (allistic) counterparts for other reasons and I think this could be a contributing factor as well.
One of the side effects of being misunderstood and having people assume awful things about my intentions throughout my life has been that I’m more willing to give chances to other people. If someone seems grumpy or rude then I’m far more likely to err on the side of believing them that they were just having a bad day and giving them more chances than maybe I should because I also know what it’s like to have people assume the worst when I was actually doing my best and meaning well.
It seems to me that most Autistics either end up trusting too much in the way I tend to do or end up not easily trusting anyone, but then when we do finally trust someone we’re still more likely to make excuses and give more chances than would be most beneficial for us because we’ve finally found someone whom we believe to be trustworthy and we would hate to hurt them the way that others have hurt us so often. Add that to often being unsure whether we’re interpreting behavior correctly because of difficulties “reading” allistic behavior and that can make us even less likely to critically examine how we’re being treated by others.
After all these years and seeing those experiences for myself, I’ve come to the conclusion that someone’s reaction to being told their behavior is damaging is the most important thing. If someone is doing something harmful then they should be told. They can, but don’t have to, be given one more chance in case they truly didn’t know what they were doing was harmful, but once they’ve been told it’s harmful then they need to either stop or be very actively working on their behaviors while showing solid improvement and attempting not to harm anyone else in the process.
If they can’t manage that, then maybe the person isn’t an awful person per se, but someone who continues to hurt me, intentionally or not, once they’ve been clearly told that they’re causing harm certainly isn’t a good person for me to be around.
I deserve to be treated well, so do my friends, and so do you ❤