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Did you experience abuse as a child?

  • Yes. One or more members of my family was abusive

    Votes: 14 56.0%
  • Yes but not at the hands of a family member

    Votes: 1 4.0%
  • I experienced trauma but not abuse

    Votes: 4 16.0%
  • I did not experience trauma or abuse as a child

    Votes: 4 16.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 2 8.0%

  • Total voters
    25

jleeb05

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
As some of you know, I practice child welfare law, which means I represent children who have been abused or neglected by their caregivers. Several members of this forum have mentioned abusive upbringings or traumatic childhoods. While I was subject to pretty intense bullying, my family was actually fairly warm and affirming. My grandmother, who lived in the same house as us, was an alcoholic but I don't recall being aware of this. There may have been some trauma as a result but I was never abused mentally, physically, or otherwise.

I suspect my Mom is on the spectrum as well which might be why I felt that she didn't always meet my emotional needs growing up, but she tried. And today I would consider her my best friend.

So I'm curious, did you have an abusive family life/upbringing? (This is your perception so I don't think it matters whether other people or the law would consider it abuse). If so, do you think the abuse was because of your autism or unrelated? Lastly, while I believe autism is mostly genetic do you feel your upbringing influenced how your autism presents, either positively or negatively?
 
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Think my experiences as a child were unrelated to Autism, and the other people would have behaved like that regardless, although possibly too trusting in people's words.

As to how my Autism presents now, it has caused me a great deal of confusion, in efforts to make my life better, I find it hard to establish whether a symptom is related to trauma or autism. I feel if it relates to trauma, it could be 'fixed' & if it relates to 'autism' I could accept it as part of who I am and try and move on, but not knowing which is which leaves me 'hanging'.

For me this is a massive stumbling block in dealing with depression, anxiety, addiction, etc. All I really know is childhood trauma plus autism is a very difficult scenario in terms of moving through life and extremely confusing.
 
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It depends on how you define 'abuse.' I was bullied at primary school, and by my siblings. Verbal abuse, rather than physical abuse. Teasing and name-calling. I was prone to meltdowns so the other kids deliberately provoked me to watch me melt down. I believe that my then undiagnosed autism most certainly played a role, because I didn't have the emotional maturity or social skills to deal with the bullying.
 
I'm the only person with empathy in a family of 5. My mother was a self absorbed narcissist and former orphan who resented parenting a lot. Dad was autistic and very distant. Siblings were abusive (I'm the youngest). Toxic families require a scapegoat and the autism delivered me into that role.

Supportive/interested parents make a huge difference in disability outcomes generally.
 
Such a complex subject!
I sectected "yes" on abuse. Though frankly, my upbringing was very confusing.

I was not physically abused but I believe the emotional abuse was unintentional.

As you know, those whom experienced trauma in childhood often develop compensatory behaviors in response to that trauma. My mother was definately codependant and lacked skills as a parent. She may also be bpd, narcasistic or even autistic (though that is unclear).

So I experienced a variety of confusing behaviors from her including neglect and bullying in the form of mocking, heavy teasing, cruel comments, ignoring my brothers abuse and neglect of my physical needs. But I also experienced moments of compassion and empathy (rare) and expensive gifts. For example: I told her I needed underwear and she gave me some of her old ones but in the same week, she bought me an expensive pair of nordic skis because her current boyfriend wanted to ski.
She also flat out ignored ny brothers bebavior towards me and he was physically abusive, restraining me physicaly, punching me in the stomach, stealing my food and other ugly behaviors.

My hypothesis is that my autisim, while it did not induce my abuse and neglect, it did make me less able to intellectualize others behaviors except to know it was wrong. Also, my mother would often say "you are a very good liar and manipulator" so my sense of reality was confused and I did not trust my ownn experiences as being real.

Even today I have wondered if my cptsd has not conjured autisim as an explaination for my confusion as a child. How much of my social and communication issues were because of cptsd as a child? I have few clues to go on. I just have a few memories from childhood but many are consistent with autisim and occur before the nightmare of my later childhood.
 
Such a complex subject!
I sectected "yes" on abuse. Though frankly, my upbringing was very confusing.

I was not physically abused but I believe the emotional abuse was unintentional.

As you know, those whom experienced trauma in childhood often develop compensatory behaviors in response to that trauma. My mother was definately codependant and lacked skills as a parent. She may also be bpd, narcasistic or even autistic (though that is unclear).

So I experienced a variety of confusing behaviors from her including neglect and bullying in the form of mocking, heavy teasing, cruel comments, ignoring my brothers abuse and neglect of my physical needs. But I also experienced moments of compassion and empathy (rare) and expensive gifts. For example: I told her I needed underwear and she gave me some of her old ones but in the same week, she bought me an expensive pair of nordic skis because her current boyfriend wanted to ski.
She also flat out ignored ny brothers bebavior towards me and he was physically abusive, restraining me physicaly, punching me in the stomach, stealing my food and other ugly behaviors.

My hypothesis is that my autisim, while it did not induce my abuse and neglect, it did make me less able to intellectualize others behaviors except to know it was wrong. Also, my mother would often say "you are a very good liar and manipulator" so my sense of reality was confused and I did not trust my ownn experiences as being real.

Even today I have wondered if my cptsd has not conjured autisim as an explaination for my confusion as a child. How much of my social and communication issues were because of cptsd as a child? I have few clues to go on. I just have a few memories from childhood but many are consistent with autisim and occur before the nightmare of my later childhood.

That sounds exactly like my issue the confusion you describe at the end, as to whether it is the CPTSD or the autism is responsible for social/communication issues, etc. It drives me crazy not knowing, as I feel I don't which parts of me are nature and which are nurture...if I could establish something is down to experience I could maybe work on it, but if it just my autistic brain wiring there is no point on trying to resolve it. It is like a mental purgatory.
 
I'm the only person with empathy in a family of 5. My mother was a self absorbed narcissist and former orphan who resented parenting a lot. Dad was autistic and very distant. Siblings were abusive (I'm the youngest). Toxic families require a scapegoat and the autism delivered me into that role.

Supportive/interested parents make a huge difference in disability outcomes generally.

Not sure if this is right place to ask, but do you feel you have made any progress dealing with any of that (I never really understand what 'dealing with it' means, which is why I ask, I suppose I mean have you lessened the impact of it on your present existance), if so what has been the most helpful thing you have done. No worries if it is too complicated to explain or not something you want to discuss openly.

Thing is I am still stuck where I was 30 years ago.
 
That sounds exactly like my issue the confusion you describe at the end, as to whether it is the CPTSD or the autism is responsible for social/communication issues, etc. It drives me crazy not knowing, as I feel I don't which parts of me are nature and which are nurture...if I could establish something is down to experience I could maybe work on it, but if it just my autistic brain wiring there is no point on trying to resolve it. It is like a mental purgatory.

I look for childood memories to help. For example: until about 10 or so I had a prefered and limited diet. I had a preference for one type of shoe and could not stand any rough ir stiff fabric nor anything close to my neck. I was a very early reader. I lined my stuffed animals along the side of my bed and would cry because the last ones were too far away and missing me. I was painfully shy. I wet the bed regularly past age 8. I also could find any lost object because I saw the details and remembered them.
You get the idea. The point here us to try to build a relevant profile unrelated to abuse. In my case this is easyish to do as there us a diffinative line between before and after abuse began.
 
I'm the only person with empathy in a family of 5. My mother was a self absorbed narcissist and former orphan who resented parenting a lot. Dad was autistic and very distant. Siblings were abusive (I'm the youngest). Toxic families require a scapegoat and the autism delivered me into that role.

That sounds like such a difficult situation! How did you deal with it?

Supportive/interested parents make a huge difference in disability outcomes generally.

Good point. That's very true.
 
Such a complex subject!
I sectected "yes" on abuse. Though frankly, my upbringing was very confusing.

I was not physically abused but I believe the emotional abuse was unintentional.

As you know, those whom experienced trauma in childhood often develop compensatory behaviors in response to that trauma. My mother was definately codependant and lacked skills as a parent. She may also be bpd, narcasistic or even autistic (though that is unclear).

So I experienced a variety of confusing behaviors from her including neglect and bullying in the form of mocking, heavy teasing, cruel comments, ignoring my brothers abuse and neglect of my physical needs. But I also experienced moments of compassion and empathy (rare) and expensive gifts. For example: I told her I needed underwear and she gave me some of her old ones but in the same week, she bought me an expensive pair of nordic skis because her current boyfriend wanted to ski.
She also flat out ignored ny brothers bebavior towards me and he was physically abusive, restraining me physicaly, punching me in the stomach, stealing my food and other ugly behaviors.

My hypothesis is that my autisim, while it did not induce my abuse and neglect, it did make me less able to intellectualize others behaviors except to know it was wrong. Also, my mother would often say "you are a very good liar and manipulator" so my sense of reality was confused and I did not trust my ownn experiences as being real.

Even today I have wondered if my cptsd has not conjured autisim as an explaination for my confusion as a child. How much of my social and communication issues were because of cptsd as a child? I have few clues to go on. I just have a few memories from childhood but many are consistent with autisim and occur before the nightmare of my later childhood.

It's interesting, you've mentioned CPTSD, which caused me to google it. It definitely seems that there are some parallels between autistic traits and CPTSD. It becomes a chicken and egg problem. Is one contributing to the other?

I would guess that a disproportionate number of people of the spectrum have endured some form of trauma. From what I'm told, I was much more outgoing and socialable when I was younger but gradually became more introverted and reserved. I imagine this is realted to some sort of trauma but that trauma might have been related to social missteps related to being on the spectrum.
 
That sounds like such a difficult situation! How did you deal with it?



Good point. That's very true.

er, became a bookworm, had rich inner life sort of thing, had to develop a sense of humour cos the callousness was so bizarre. Mum also had multiple personalites, one of whom was somewhat visible, so it was very destabilising. They said they couldn't afford shinks and her high regard for herself wouldn't allow it probably.
 
It's interesting, you've mentioned CPTSD, which caused me to google it. It definitely seems that there are some parallels between autistic traits and CPTSD. It becomes a chicken and egg problem. Is one contributing to the other?

I would guess that a disproportionate number of people of the spectrum have endured some form of trauma. From what I'm told, I was much more outgoing and socialable when I was younger but gradually became more introverted and reserved. I imagine this is realted to some sort of trauma but that trauma might have been related to social missteps related to being on the spectrum.

Yes indeed. I think a lot of late diagnosed adults can relate to this chicken and egg problem. Cptsd or autisim?

I don't think the answer is as hard as it appears to be. For one thing "normal" children develop on fairly predicatable time tables with a limited range for development. By comparing our memories against known development milestones, we may see a pattern between behaviors we remember and the expected norm for that particular age. That may give one a baseline independant of trauma in which we can assess ourselves.
 
Okay. Very triggering posts to read for me. Grew up neglected at toddler age. Mom let me cry with no comforting. My granny told me in teens - mom wanted to put me up for adoption. I remember trying to convince my mom l was a loveable child in teens. I protected my mom from my bully dad in kindergarten when he was pretending to drive off the road on her side. I protectively put my arms around my mom, and told my dad not to hurt her. He never abused her in front of me at least. My ability to connect is somewhat limited of course. I can't help who l am. I am not cold, not bad just unavailable for my personal safety.
 
Yes, I faced a lot of abuse as a child. More psychological than physical or sexual but all three were present. This made things hard because I was very easily gaslit. As an aspie I feel like I’m fairly gullible and all too trusting but even so the abuse came from family members at first so it’s only natural I trusted them. There were times at school I remember asking teachers to hit me (cue CPS making multiple visits) when I got in trouble because I thought they were upset with me the way my father would be angry with me, full of judgement. I always preferred the belt over screaming, probably a sound sensory thing as my sense of sound is most vigilant and leads me to be overwhelmed by sound much more intensely than other stimuli but I also preferred the belt because a blow would only hurt for so long and then I could easily forget… a scream session full of brutal insults lasted in my mind much longer. This is also contributed by the fact that I have a photographic memory… my father would allow me to close my eyes during physical punishment but I had to look at him when being verbally abused, making the memory be that much more engrained in my impressionable, powerful brain.
 
@Leah (lay-uh), I am so sorry your upbringing was so bad!

But you bring a good point to the discussion.
I was very easily gaslit. As an aspie I feel like I’m fairly gullible and all too trusting

This line certainly describes me as a child and young adult. "I was very easily gaslit" still applies to me in many instances. I wonder if this is an aspie trait?
 
Yes indeed. I think a lot of late diagnosed adults can relate to this chicken and egg problem. Cptsd or autisim?
For me, I think it was my autism that created the conditions (social/sexual isolation) that led to CPTSD, which I am dealing with now.
 
On a lighter note, we used to be regaled with stories about their poverty experiences (my parents were older than average, 30 & 40 when they married), dad was born around 1914 I think, it was stuff like how they only had 'bread and dripping' to eat etc. sorta like this monty python sketch. This was absurd to kids in the 60s. I think it was supposed to suggest to us just how 'lucky' we were.

 
Yes, I faced a lot of abuse as a child. More psychological than physical or sexual but all three were present. This made things hard because I was very easily gaslit. As an aspie I feel like I’m fairly gullible and all too trusting but even so the abuse came from family members at first so it’s only natural I trusted them. There were times at school I remember asking teachers to hit me (cue CPS making multiple visits) when I got in trouble because I thought they were upset with me the way my father would be angry with me, full of judgement. I always preferred the belt over screaming, probably a sound sensory thing as my sense of sound is most vigilant and leads me to be overwhelmed by sound much more intensely than other stimuli but I also preferred the belt because a blow would only hurt for so long and then I could easily forget… a scream session full of brutal insults lasted in my mind much longer. This is also contributed by the fact that I have a photographic memory… my father would allow me to close my eyes during physical punishment but I had to look at him when being verbally abused, making the memory be that much more engrained in my impressionable, powerful brain.


I just want to reach in and give you a huge virtual hug. You post made me sigh and pretty close to tears. My father was a yeller, and a clothes brush enforcer and of course the final assult in my teenage years of a different thing which l had horrible guilt feelings and was kicked out of my home for at 17 for something that wasn't my fault.

His voice saying my name makes me cringed even now. I finally got the paddling to end by high school by threatening to go out my 2nd floor bedroom window. Only then did he stop. But then started the new nightmare, where is mom? Not good to be in house with father only. Things aren't good. Mom comes home and looks at me and decides something weird going on. I was asked to leave for live in job and finished last year of HS working and school. He kicked my brother so hard one time, l had to come in and comfort my younger brother. Memories.......
 
There's abuse and there's abuse. And abuse is an opinion that may or may not be backed up by law. As a mandatory reporter for a while, I had to study the legal aspect pretty thoroughly. Let's just say that discipline that was perfectly acceptable when I was young would clearly fall into the realm of legally reportable abuse today. I got my share of it. My sister got worse. Hands, sticks, belts.

It may be that if you think the abuse it an acceptable response to something, it is less traumatizing. If everyone gets whacked or belted every now, it keeps it from feeling "special."

At school there was the "board of education." Size of a tennis rackett but solid wood with holes drilled in it. In 5th grade I got a large number of whacks for every spelling page I hadn't completed. Never did complete that spelling book.

I seriously got hit in the back of the head by the principal at school in 7th grade. Walked up to me in gym class and whacked the back of my neck with the palm of his hand. I was supposed to be in the office and I had misunderstood the instructions to mean after class. He assumed I was just blowing him off. Saw stars and my neck hurt. But that is what one expected if you screwed up.

Some people are much more prone to PTSD than others. Probably has to do with having greater psychological resilience for a number of factors. Or maybe something in the amygdala or limbic systems. And that is why many people will not believe that you are suffering PTSD because they endured the same things you did and it didn't have the same effect. There are also people who claim PTSD who do not deserve the diagnosis. I have seen a bit of phony "triggering" over the decades.

As I get older I think I am more vulnerable. Perhaps my natural defenses are waning.
 
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