Thursday, August 6, 2015
The Empty Chair
"Children with any type of disability are 3.44 times more likely to be a victim of some type of abuse compared to children without disabilities" The Arc
This is a very personal post. My purpose in sharing my experience is the same as any post I write. I want you to hear about my experiences, in the hope that thru my lesson you might be saved the pain. Hopefully someone who reads it either has an "ah, ha" moment or feels less alone. If when you read this it reminds you of your relationship I urge you to seek help. http://www.thehotline.org/ or call 1-800-799-7233.
Being in an abusive relationship is sometimes as hard to identify as it is to identify that your child has autism. You hear about the signs and it is frequently brought up in the news. Yet when you see it you find your self having thoughts like...Doesn't every kid line up their toys? Doesn't every kid flap their hands? Isn't it just because he is a boy? Often times when you are in an abusive relationship you find yourself in the same line of thoughts. Isn't it normal for a man to constantly call and text you IF he ever let's you go somewhere alone? He hit me in the face, but there wasn't any mark? It isn't really abuse if I'm not in a bloody heap on the floor, right?
When you are in an abusive relationship slowly, subtly you are pulled away from friends and family. It happens over years and it is ALWAYS your fault.
It starts out as him being helpful then you end up not being able to go anywhere without him. You can't spend a dime without him WATCHING every cent.
He starts to control what you wear, how you do your makeup. That too is a subtle change it starts as a compliment, a small suggestion, that eventually changes who you are in the fiber of your being. You reach a point where you don't even remember what makes you happy
Still you don't see it.
You aren't a bloody heap in the corner. How can this be abuse? Yet you aren't able to breath a word of opinion without the flipping out and calling you horrible names. How dare you. He hits you for it. But, it isn't abuse, right? You don't call the cops because he is afraid of loosing his job. You still can't see it. So slow and subtle. You are physically sick your head hurts you stomach hurts you can't sleep at night. But, you still can't see it.
Many woman will never see it and a percentage of them end up dead. The lucky ones some how get out. It may taking finding out that he has cheated. For me it was seeing a friend who was happy. In a moment of clarity I knew that I had to leave. He was escalating and I knew that it was only a matter of time before I WAS the bloody heap in the corner.
I was too afraid and too ashamed to tell anyone. I almost went back to him at one point, nobody knew the secret hell that I was living. They couldn't see why I was leaving. It wasn't the first abusive relationship that I have been in either. The other one ended before it got too bad. This time it took a friend of mine to help me say no and stay strong. I will be forever grateful for her support and love. I promised myself that if there was anything good that could come from my experience was that I could help someone else. Give that love and support that they needed to make it thru.
So, why am I sharing this? That was almost a decade ago. I don't plan on ever calling the cops or pressing charges. I am STILL afraid of him. I am constantly fearful of running into him and him seeing my children or where I live. Yet I am finally beginning to speaking publically and sharing a part of my story, (there is much more that I can't talk about yet). How is this related to autism? People with autism are easily a target to be in this kind of relationship. We have to educate our kids about it.
I am also writing this in the wake of the 35 women who have come forward in the Bill Cosby sex scandal being featured on the cover of New York Magazine. If you look you will see an empty chair it is for the women who haven't come foreword and the 11 others who were too afraid to have their picture taken. I had already started this before I read this piece by Kelsey Miller on Refinery 29 . I was a crying mess and didn't want to finish it, but, I did. That empty chair is for me too. No, I was never hurt by Mr.Cosby, but like these other women I spent almost my whole life hiding in the dark with hidden scars. Why did they come forward after all of these years? Maybe because they were done with hiding in the dark too?