“Violent Behavior”

They never call restraint “violent behavior”.
They call flicking a paper clip “violent behavior”. They call snapping a pencil “violent behavior”.
They don’t call throwing a kid to the floor “violent”.
Our breaking is less important than that of a pencil.
Because, you cannot hurt an unperson. You cannot be violent to someone who doesn’t exist.
Because, when you are crazy, autistic, disabled, to exist in space is violent. To exist in space becomes an act of war.

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Pity

People stare at you on the street, and you read put-her-out-of-her-misery behind their eyes. You try to count the stares; you lose track.
They talk to you in the voice of so many preschool teachers. You vow to never use that voice when you grow up and become a preschool teacher.
They are very kind about it, when they tell you you are unnerving, horrifying, not good enough. They are simply stating facts.
You make people uncomfortable. Sad. Desperate. You make people cry and donate money.
People wish you didn’t exist. They wish it for your own sake.
If you start to wish it, too, that is proof.

Abby Talks About Therapy

TW: abuse, therapy, abusive therapy, weird ways my brain works

So! I’m going to see a therapist.
I don’t trust therapists. I have been to a ton of therapists, and even the ones who didn’t do things like throw kids on the ground or scream in our faces or twist our arms behind our backs have had a combination of these ideas:
– Everything wrong with my family is my fault
– Acting normal is a really important thing for me to do
– I actually could do things I said I couldn’t do- I was just not motivated/too scared/a bad judge of my own limits (this one was occasionally true but not nearly as often as they thought it was, and the way they applied it was quite damaging)
– My mom said (whatever the thing was) never happened; I must be lying/delusional/have trouble perspective taking, and a really important therapy goal should be to get me to realize that my mom was right about everything
I could go on…
(Note: I’m not saying there aren’t good therapists, and I’m not criticizing anyone who has chosen to go to therapy. If you’ve found a good therapist, I’m really happy for you.)
And therapists are really good at manipulating people (I mean, therapy is about changing the way people think? So it can be a really powerful tool for good, and also a really powerful tool to misuse) and I’m super easy to manipulate a. to say what you want me to say in verbal communication, because of my scripting and low processing speed and general trouble saying what I mean in mouth-words and b. if you get me to dissociate first, because, how can I tell I’m not dreaming? How can I be sure I’m not eight? How do I know that it isn’t a good idea to put grape jelly in my ears? Okay, that’s sort of a ridiculous example, but in that state you could probably get me to put grape jelly in my ears if you wanted to, and, more seriously, you could convince me that I’m broken in whatever way and that I need to try and fix myself- and this kind of therapy has put me in long term mindwarps, and I’m afraid it will sometime put me in a permanent mindwarp.
The thing is, there are some things therapy could really help me with, such as my terror of telling people things because I know I’m going to say everything wrong, or my assumption that anything anyone says to me or doesn’t say to me actually means “you’re a really horrible person and I don’t like you” (part of that may be because of past therapists telling me that people are just pretending to like me – I would love therapy to reverse previous therapy!) But, almost every time I’ve revealed information to therapists before it has been a really bad idea- can I tell you about the horrors of abusive-parent-and-abusive-therapist-work-together-to-abuse-kid?
And that brings me to the fear that working with a therapist will make things get worse again. Because things have got better, so much better – I mean nothing has even been thrown in a long time- and I want them to stay better. But therapists tended to make my parents terrified that Really Bad Things would happen if they did not Control My Behavior and they also tended to suggests ways of Controlling My Behavior that involved, for example, slamming me into walls. (Can I tell you about therapist language. About how Escort To Safe Space can mean Drag Kid By Hair and no one but the parents-kid-therapist or just the kid-therapist can know it, and the parents-kid might not know it’s an unusual definition and no one will believe the kid.)
I’m going to get a therapist because school says I have to or they won’t let me go to school anymore because they’re afraid I’m going to kill myself (look, I got practically kicked out of school and I did not get thrown into a wall, things are very safe and they need to stay safe (one of the things I wish a therapist would help me with is my reaction to safety being “I’ve-got-to-keep-this-I’ve-got-to-keep-this *golem voice* my preciouss safety! *knocks on every piece of wood in the room, tries even harder than before to be perfect, stops talking to safe people because I might say the wrong thing and make them stop being safe people, has panic attack because I know I’m going to ruin it*” (Yes, noticing that I’m safe actually causes me panic attacks. “No one has hit me in a while OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO DIE!” I have a very ironic brain.)))
TL;DR: My school is making me get a therapist. I would put myself on the list of People Who Need Therapy except that therapy has never been anything but awful and damaging. I wish I could get therapy to reverse previous therapy.

When you’re autistic, it’s not abuse, it’s therapy

Trigger warning: abuse, discrimination, gas lighting

I am angry.
Off the top of my head, I cannot think of an autistic person I know who has not been abused.
I saw children thrown to the floor by screaming adults for rocking their chairs. By special ed teachers. So I sat still I had quiet hands I closed my mouth and chewed my tongue into corned beef and I went home and tore apart the skin that had been cinching tighter and tighter around me all day.
They didn’t believe my friend who loved dressing up like a princess or my friend who loved computer programming or me.
Oh, I finally thought of an autistic person who wasn’t abused. And another. Out of the dozens and dozens of autistic people whose memoirs/blogs I have read – autism is my “special interest”. (Oh, you said “special-interest” instead of “perseveration”. You get your disability positivity points for the day, now you can pat me on the head and call me a savant and have a nice little debate about whether I am real.)
The thing is that my mom is the Perfect Advocate Parent. The thing is that she does this because she cares about me. The thing is that she does this all to teach me to be socially appropriate and to fix my behavior problems. The thing is that she kicked me over and threw me to the ground because she knew that I could sweep better than that, that I was actually refusing to sweep by saying I was doing the best I could, and that it is Not Okay to not do what an adult tells you to do – downright dangerous, in fact. That could generalize to me running out in the street or seriously hurting people or mouthing off to a police officer. (I got bruises from where she kept me safe.)
I knew I deserved it because she ended her dragging me by the hair and twisting my arm by hugging me and forgiving me for making her do this.
She’s a Good Parent. She was only following the plan. She was doing the best she could.
I have PTSD.
(So common as to be almost routine in autistic adults.)
(When you’re autistic, it’s not abuse, it’s therapy.)
More than 90%, it is estimated, of people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual abuse in our lives. I couldn’t find statistics for physical or emotional.
If you are a teacher, or otherwise one of the Trusted Adults (registered trademark) of a disabled person, and they report something that sounds like abuse – it probably is.
Even if they don’t report anything, they are probably being, or will be abused.
Isn’t that terrifying? Aren’t you angry?
All the therapists and autism experts or whatever didn’t believe us/believed anything was justified and even necessary so we wouldn’t end up murdering people/ending up in an institution (of course stigma and negative stereotypes don’t do any harm! You know you’d have to be retarded to think something like that!)
Please stop teaching compliance. Please stop teaching compliance.
Please believe us. (One of the major differences, often, between a person who experiences traumatic events and develops PTSD and a person who doesn’t develop PTSD is that the person who doesn’t develop it has a support system. Of people who talk about it with them. Who don’t say, that never happened, or, that’s all your fault.)
(She was a Good Parent and I got bruises.)
(90%. We are not alone.)

I have actual PTSD. (Abby, how can I explain this in a way you will understand? You are an unreliable narrator.) (Can you get PTSD from imagining things?) (You are such a difficult child, kids like you are the ones who give their parents PTSD.) (He says it’s real and I am so relieved.)

I can’t stop thinking about

fingers. Like flowers that never unfold,

there are fingers that never let go.

There are ghosts that still

drift up and down my blood like flower petals,

recycling from cramped fist to locked lungs

to how the city lights

look like glass shards or angels

and how I want to crash out the window

and join them.

I jump out the window

in dozens of dreams.

Car keys look sharp enough

to slit my wrists.

I keep telling myself

I was never hit

(she always said that I lived

in a fantasy world).

But the room spun

and the room lifted

and I was saying

don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry

(I didn’t hit you

hard enough to make you dizzy)

and she was saying

don’t tell don’t tell don’t tell

and I stood in a swirl of blue bruises

and needling fluorescent lights

and shattering voices

and I didn’t feel a thing.

Bruises melt away

like popcorn in your mouth.

Memories latch onto your bones

like wrenches.

Yesterday I learned that it isn’t normal

for your parents to drag you by your hair.

Today the social worker told me

I have actual PTSD,

and I went home and thought,

I tricked him.

I tricked him by telling the truth.

 

Note: to clarify: they did hit me and they did give me bruises, but the bruises were not from being hit, as far as I can remember, they were from where I hit the floor when they knocked me over. I think it’s okay that the poem is sort of tangled because my experience of all this is/was tangled.