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[This post assumes that both genders can be victims of sexual aggression, and examples herein, while grammatically gendered, are not so to demonstrate a gender-specific point. Don't throw brickbats.]

I read in the news today that Neil deGrasse Tyson has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by three women. I have no idea whether he is on-spectrum; given his fluency as a communicator, I doubt it. But reading the details got me thinking. One complained that he peeked under the covered part of the shoulder on her sleeveless dress to see a tattoo of the solar system that she had mentioned at a party of the International Astronomical Congress; while she apparently acknowledges it wasn't an assault, she says it shows he is capable of "creepy behavior". Another felt he had given her an "awkward and incredibly intimate handshake". The third, more serious, alleges waking up naked in his graduate student bed in 1984 after blacking out from a drink he had given her, with no memory of what had happened, but assuming he had drugged and raped her. She did file a police report years later, and began blogging about the incident in 2014, the year Tyson began hosting Cosmos on television, 30 years after the alleged event.

I detail these things because I can easily, easily imagine an Aspie committing either of the first two gaffes in utter and complete innocence, and a neurotypical losing his or her wig over it because of a whole suitcase full of assumptions. And then... OMG, #MeToo! The pile-on begins. The suspicion. The pre-judgment. The inquiry. The Trial-by-Twitter.

Is the Aspie, is the HFA, prepared, even equipped to contend with this? Hardly, because it is a social onslaught of NT making. It is warfare on the most hostile possible battlefield.

Now, this is not to say that autistics cannot be guilty of interpersonal offense. Delayed development of social skills may result in inappropriate expression - indeed, "creepy behavior". Auties may not have a neurotypical's appreciation of personal boundaries. Yet there must be some consideration for the difference between willful sexual aggression and aggression without intent.

For example: If a neurotypical 13-year-old boy walked up to a woman and openly touched her breast, there would rightly be consternation and outcry. That boy is old enough to understand that that constitutes a transgression. If an Aspie 13-year-old boy walked up to a woman and openly touched her breast, the degree of his offense would depend on the degree of his autism. He could very well simply be fixated on the shape, or the color of the blouse, or the fact that she as an individual differed from the individual next to her, in a tactile way, and did not process that an investigation was not in order.

A neurotypical bystander, however, would not draw this distinction. Both cases would represent sexual harassment, because the woman would have had the sanctity of her body violated, and her sensibility outraged.

And this is where my question arises with respect to the entire movement: Is there not some point at which a person's sensibilities - in essence, their feelings - must be weighed against other factors to determine whether an action rises to the level of an offense? The Universe is full of upsets; we are not guaranteed to be made constantly happy, not by events, and certainly not by one another. Indeed, that would be an impossibility, because it is seldom possible to make two persons equally happy in a single matter in which both are equally invested. At some point, the offended person must accede to accepting some level of annoyance, discomfort, embarrassment, shame or affront in situations, or we would all be constantly knifing one another for pounds of flesh (and then knifing one another over the knifings).

Was the woman harmed when Mr. Tyson curiously looked at her shoulder? She was not. Was she embarrassed? Possibly. Was she demeaned in front of colleagues? One would have had to be present to know. Did Mr. Tyson act out of salacious intent, or simply because he couldn't resist looking at an image of the solar system? One would have to know him well to say, but his body of public life and work suggests the latter.

Was the woman harmed by being creeped out by his handshake? She was not. Was she made to feel uncomfortable about further workplace interaction with him as a result? Ah! Here, one may come to differing views. In my view, she was not made to do so; she chose to do so. She did not address the issue in a positive-affirmative manner saying, "I'm sorry, that made me feel uncomfortable" and I would prefer to keep our relationship purely professional", thus giving him an opportunity to back gracefully away. She instead took the offense and ran with it, informing him that the next day would be her last day at work. She elevated the value of her own sensibility to a level higher than both the value of her job or the value of the fairness she owed to another human being. To my mind, she fails the test for sympathy.

Because autistics so frequently are unable to relate to neurotypicals on an emotional level - i.e., the level of sensibilities - the possibility of negotiating understanding in this sphere is limited. That suggests the likelihood that autistics may tend to stumble more frequently in this arena of social conduct, and to fare poorly under a neurotypical lens when confronted.

Perhaps, #MeNToo would be more accurate?

Thoughts?

Edited to add: Never mind the #MeNToo idea - I can already hear the fits being thrown because it looks like “men too”. :brooding:

 

Edited by Cerberus

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Do you mind if I copy and paste this to a  private discussion I am having elsewhere?

I assume we would both prefer I not link directly here.  

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Help yourself, Chief. I stand behind everthing I say.

Edited by Cerberus

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7 hours ago, Cerberus said:

Was the woman harmed by being creeped out by his handshake? She was not. 

I am, irreducibly, both female and autistic. Change either of those characteristics and I would be an entirely different person. I would not be “Me, just a guy,” I would be someone else.

The autistic of me thinks sheepishly of all the times I’ve made someone uncomfortable with a badly botched or utterly failed social interaction. And the woman of me knows full well it is entirely possible to be harmed by a creepy handshake (or an overeager hand up your sleeve). No, he didn’t wrench off her arm and leave her bleeding to death on the floor. 

But here’s the story of the “creepy handshake” in its entirety:

https://thinkprogress.org/neil-degrasse-tyson-sexual-misconduct-e63501adf706/

Here’s a simpler version:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/02/us/neil-degrasse-tyson-patheos-allegations/index.html

 

7 hours ago, Cerberus said:

Was she made to feel uncomfortable about further workplace interaction with him as a result? 

Gosh. I would feel uncomfortable. Really, really uncomfortable. 

 

7 hours ago, Cerberus said:

In my view, she was not made to do so; she chose to do so. She did not address the issue in a positive-affirmative manner saying, "I'm sorry, that made me feel uncomfortable" and I would prefer to keep our relationship purely professional", thus giving him an opportunity to back gracefully away. She instead took the offense and ran with it, informing him that the next day would be her last day at work. She elevated the value of her own sensibility to a level higher than both the value of her job or the value of the fairness she owed to another human being. To my mind, she fails the test for sympathy.

Let me explain, with the woman part of me, what this looks like. 

A man who has professional power over me - and let’s not ignore physical power. Tyson is a big guy - has just made me uncomfortable. He has spooked me. I didn’t know he had any such thoughts about me. Now I do. 

Now every single time I’m alone with him, in the back of my mind, there’s going to be a little ticker-tape of worry, because of what he did. 

She hasn’t made a choice to feel this way. This happens to women all. the. time. It’s the death of a thousand cuts. I feel it every day. As an Aspie, I can’t see any logical reason why it should be perilous to me to talk to a man on the street who wants directions. As a woman, I know very well that it can be. I’ve just given him an opening. I don’t know what he’s going to want to do with it. 

I mean, I really don’t know. As an Aspie, I suck at reading the signs. So I’ve learned it’s safest to assume the worst. Believe me, this is a really fun way to live.

Ms. Watson listened to her instincts, her experiences, to her Spidey sense. She made the very sensible choice to walk away from a situation that was never going to feel ok to her again. I would have done the same thing. As a young Aspie, I wouldn’t have. As a grown woman I know better. There are other jobs. It is not worth the psychological toll it takes on you to go to work every day with that feeling.

Using Dr. Tyson as an example here is sort of a red herring, as we have no reason to believe he’s autistic. Dyslexic, yes. Since he’s spoken freely about learning disabilities, I can’t think why he’d hide autism. Talking about him makes it hard to concentrate on what I think is the real issue at hand, the accommodations that the neuroatypical can and should be granted.

https://www.understood.org/en/community-events/blogs/in-the-news/2015/05/06/neil-degrasse-tysons-inspiring-words-about-scientists-with-learning-and-attention-issues

The world needs better education about autism and how it makes us work. I hope that when people have it, feelings - sentiments - towards us will gentle. I hope people will understand that we mean no offense, and will cut us some slack. 

But speaking as a woman...Any kid who comes up to me and attempts to grope me is going to find himself violently repelled, regardless of neurology. The NT child is subsequently going to find himself in a fuckton of trouble. The Aspie child’s guardian is not going to enjoy the conversation s/he and I have, either. And if the Aspie kid can’t learn not to do it, the long-term consequence will be the end of any relationship. Salacious intent or not, there are boundaries that are absolute. The body is one of them. (Dr. Tyson is old enough to know that.)

One of the rules at the autism support groups that I attend is that you never touch anyone without asking first. I think this would be an excellent lesson to teach autistic children in general, at least as they reach puberty. Whether they - we - are cognitively capable of understanding the subtle social ramifications of why we Don’t Touch hardly matters. Not getting into the situation in the first place will save everyone a lot of grief. 

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38 minutes ago, Gearhead said:

Using Dr. Tyson as an example here is sort of a red herring, as we have no reason to believe he’s autistic.

I confess myself disappointed in this statement. My original post had no intent as a defense of any sort for Mr. Tyson's alleged (and it is at this time alleged) behavior, and I made it clear from the beginning that I not only had no information that he is on the spectrum, but personally doubted it. The particulars of Mr. Tyson's case are in fact beside the point, and only serve as a launching-point for the broader discussion.

I rather expected pushback on my assertion regarding the question of whether the handshake woman was made to feel a certain way. I have a firm rationalist philosophy about this based on my own experience in coping with unpleasant emotions, which I readily understand is not something that everyone to which everyone subscribes. I rule my emotions; I do not permit them to rule me. Otherwise, life would be intolerable for me as an Aspie. No one can make me feel anything, and I contend that I cannot make anyone else feel anything. It is the other person's election to allow his or her limbic response to govern his or her actions.

51 minutes ago, Gearhead said:

A man who has professional power over me - and let’s not ignore physical power. Tyson is a big guy - has just made me uncomfortable. He has spooked me. I didn’t know he had any such thoughts about me. Now I do. 

Now every single time I’m alone with him, in the back of my mind, there’s going to be a little ticker-tape of worry, because of what he did. 

She hasn’t made a choice to feel this way. This happens to women all. the. time. It’s the death of a thousand cuts. I feel it every day. As an Aspie, I can’t see any logical reason why it should be perilous to me to talk to a man on the street who wants directions. As a woman, I know very well that it can be. I’ve just given him an opening. I don’t know what he’s going to want to do with it.

In the case of the handshake woman here, you explain that she feels "uncomfortable" and "spooked" because the person confronting her has power and is big. She will always, thereafter, worry if she is alone with him. You say that now, she has cognitively extended her concern (without corroborating experience) to a state that makes her fearful to talk to any man on the street, even though her own logical faculties tell her that the likelihood of peril is small and the fear is on the whole irrational. We are discussing her feelings here, her emotional state. You are suggesting that the event has resulted in lasting emotional trauma that has so indelibly altered the woman's state of mind that she has only the extreme recourse of walking away from her job.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. None of what you have explained has absolved the woman of taking responsibility for her own state of mind, for confronting her own fears in a rational manner, and for forwardly communicating her feelings in a self-affirming way. Were we talking about a transgression of greater magnitude, there might be greater claim to mental trauma, but at some point the recipient - I will not say victim - of an unwelcome encounter must make a self-determination that only he or she can make as to whether he or she was in fact harmed in a real way, and, realistically, how resilient he or she can be to recover under his or her own power. You state that "there are boundaries that are absolute. The body is one of them" but there is no absolute definition of personal space; where one person may dislike any touch at all, another person may be entirely untroubled by it. The boundary is only absolute to the individual who sets it, and that boundary cannot be known to others - beyond a set of socially common taboos - unless it is expressed.

My entire post was intended not to debate the broader issues - I find the public discourse on the matter currently so mired in a fetid bog of neurotypical emotionalism that I fear its potential for positive societal change will be squandered.  Rather, I simply wished to question whether autistics might be particularly vulnerable in the trending environment. I fully concur with your view that broader education on the nature of autism may help, but at the same time, it wouldn't hurt for NTs to learn that feelings are not the same as facts.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a male. I have Asperger's Syndrome. I have been physically assaulted at my workplace. I have been sexually assaulted quite seriously on more than one occasion. I do not write from a position of ignorance, and I can only attest that I am not compelled by any emotion to say #MeToo to any of it.

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This whole thing gives me a headache. On one hand arseholes need to be taught a lesson, then on the other mud sticks. Cliff Richard has found this to be the thing. 

It's quite easy to see the victims become the bullies. 

 

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@Southern Discomfort - Wow. That has to be the most succinct summation of the problems with this issue that I’ve heard. You get a cookie.

Edited by Cerberus

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NT(ish) woman here. I work as an engineer in a field with very few women, but many men who frequently have poor social skills (I won't pretend to dx them with ASD or anything else, I'm not qualified).

18 hours ago, Cerberus said:

I confess myself disappointed in this statement. My original post had no intent as a defense of any sort for Mr. Tyson's alleged (and it is at this time alleged) behavior, and I made it clear from the beginning that I not only had no information that he is on the spectrum, but personally doubted it. The particulars of Mr. Tyson's case are in fact beside the point, and only serve as a launching-point for the broader discussion.

I rather expected pushback on my assertion regarding the question of whether the handshake woman was made to feel a certain way. I have a firm rationalist philosophy about this based on my own experience in coping with unpleasant emotions, which I readily understand is not something that everyone to which everyone subscribes. I rule my emotions; I do not permit them to rule me. Otherwise, life would be intolerable for me as an Aspie. No one can make me feel anything, and I contend that I cannot make anyone else feel anything. It is the other person's election to allow his or her limbic response to govern his or her actions.

Respectfully, what you describe is more common among Autists. It is decidedly not common for NTs. Oh that it were. My experience of IOP/group therapies is that the general consensus is that we are responsible for our actions, regardless of our feelings. So you may feel angry that you stepped on a lego while barefoot, but you are responsible for terrifying a child if you explode at them for leaving toys on the floor (where exploding - e.g. yelling beyond any reasonable measure, throwing objects at or hitting the child, etc. - is the action. Anger is the feeling).

Some therapies insist we can change our feelings. CBT claims if you change your thoughts, you can change your feelings. I'm skeptical. I have never been able to think or logic my feelings away/into something different. However, I have been able to accept them and move on (ACT), for some things at least. Regardless of my experience, CBT and ACT are accepted ways to treat even severe trauma-related reactions to situations where the limbic response does take over the person's response to a situation.

19 hours ago, Cerberus said:

In the case of the handshake woman here, you explain that she feels "uncomfortable" and "spooked" because the person confronting her has power and is big. She will always, thereafter, worry if she is alone with him. You say that now, she has cognitively extended her concern (without corroborating experience) to a state that makes her fearful to talk to any man on the street, even though her own logical faculties tell her that the likelihood of peril is small and the fear is on the whole irrational. We are discussing her feelings here, her emotional state. You are suggesting that the event has resulted in lasting emotional trauma that has so indelibly altered the woman's state of mind that she has only the extreme recourse of walking away from her job.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. None of what you have explained has absolved the woman of taking responsibility for her own state of mind, for confronting her own fears in a rational manner, and for forwardly communicating her feelings in a self-affirming way. Were we talking about a transgression of greater magnitude, there might be greater claim to mental trauma, but at some point the recipient - I will not say victim - of an unwelcome encounter must make a self-determination that only he or she can make as to whether he or she was in fact harmed in a real way, and, realistically, how resilient he or she can be to recover under his or her own power. You state that "there are boundaries that are absolute. The body is one of them" but there is no absolute definition of personal space; where one person may dislike any touch at all, another person may be entirely untroubled by it. The boundary is only absolute to the individual who sets it, and that boundary cannot be known to others - beyond a set of socially common taboos - unless it is expressed.

Here, I say two things. First, some people are more sensitive than others to subtle and/or perceived social queues, partly as a result of upbringing/history. I agree with you that the idea of a handshake being creepy enough to cause lasting emotional trauma seems... far fetched. However, not knowing the woman's background/history... okay. I think she did the right thing in leaving a job where, for whatever reason, she could not feel safe. I am extremely skeptical of the claim that a "creepy" handshake is sexual harassment or even reportable.

So, I wrote that... and then I read the two links that @Gearhead provided. In the situation described in those links there is much more than a handshake and I believe I would respond much the same. What's creepy? Being alone with a male superior who is potentially intoxicated, improperly/unprofessionally clothed, and who has made sexual innuendo about overpowering me. Let's be clear - I would not quit my job over a handshake that goes on too long. I have not quit my job over a (short, a-frame) hug initiated by a male superior. But if a man (or woman, I don't actually care, but unfortunately for men there is more stigma there because of a socially inherent power differential) were making sexual comments about me? I'd be... looking for work, if not quitting immediately.

Dr. Tyson's actions are, sadly, not surprising to me. I am very familiar with that community, I was involved with them when in college - I originally studied to be an astronomer and did research in that realm with a well-known astronomer and was even at the same conference the prior year to the alleged incident. The physics/astrophysics community is one of the most sexist STEM fields (this is well documented, and is a large part of why there are far fewer women in physics than in math or chemistry). 

19 hours ago, Cerberus said:

My entire post was intended not to debate the broader issues - I find the public discourse on the matter currently so mired in a fetid bog of neurotypical emotionalism that I fear its potential for positive societal change will be squandered.  Rather, I simply wished to question whether autistics might be particularly vulnerable in the trending environment. I fully concur with your view that broader education on the nature of autism may help, but at the same time, it wouldn't hurt for NTs to learn that feelings are not the same as facts.

Absolutely agree with this. There is no question in my mind: autistics are more vulnerable than NT men to making mistakes, particularly Aspies and HFAs who can sometimes "pass" as NT.

I agree with @Gearhead that there is behaviour I would not tolerate from any person regardless of their mental status. However, reactions and consequences absolutely should be moderated with respect to the individual incident and the alleged "perpetrator's" (for lack of a better word) ability to understand and follow social norms.

The #MeToo movement is walking a tricky line between holding people accountable for their actions and letting NTs confuse feelings with facts. There can't be knee-jerk responses to either side of this coin.

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4 hours ago, Velvet Elvis said:

I both agree and disagree with you so much at the same time that it's frustrating Cerb.  

So do I. In my own head. It's maddening.

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2 hours ago, Geek said:

Respectfully, what you describe is more common among Autists. It is decidedly not common for NTs. Oh that it were. My experience of IOP/group therapies is that the general consensus is that we are responsible for our actions, regardless of our feelings. So you may feel angry that you stepped on a lego while barefoot, but you are responsible for terrifying a child if you explode at them for leaving toys on the floor (where exploding - e.g. yelling beyond any reasonable measure, throwing objects at or hitting the child, etc. - is the action. Anger is the feeling).

Some therapies insist we can change our feelings. CBT claims if you change your thoughts, you can change your feelings. I'm skeptical. I have never been able to think or logic my feelings away/into something different. However, I have been able to accept them and move on (ACT), for some things at least. Regardless of my experience, CBT and ACT are accepted ways to treat even severe trauma-related reactions to situations where the limbic response does take over the person's response to a situation.

Oh that it were, indeed. It may be that I hold my view strongly because I have found CBT extremely effective in my own life. I am entirely prepared to accept the possibility that a person's feelings can be prompted by another, and that the responsibility for the control of those feelings lies in the response. That also is plausible to me, but it does not alter my underlying premise that lays the onus upon the person feeling the effect to make a rational personal assessment of what that response should be. You suggest that severe trauma may lead to situations where limbic response does take over the person's response beyond rational control, and has identified treatment methodologies; i.e. it enters the realm of pathology. In most cases, I would  not think it goes as far as that.

 

2 hours ago, Geek said:

Dr. Tyson's actions are, sadly, not surprising to me. I am very familiar with that community, I was involved with them when in college - I originally studied to be an astronomer and did research in that realm with a well-known astronomer and was even at the same conference the prior year to the alleged incident. The physics/astrophysics community is one of the most sexist STEM fields (this is well documented, and is a large part of why there are far fewer women in physics than in math or chemistry). 

The entire realm of the of those disciplines is woefully male-slanted.

2 hours ago, Geek said:

NT(ish) woman here. 

Ish? With great respect, Geek (as always), being autistic is not something one can dangle one's toes into. You do not have the dx. Your insights have value from an NT perspective - as one observing autistics - but please realize that not being autistic, you cannot present as though you were "sort of" or "a little". I mention this only in closing, because your comments do have value.

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18 hours ago, Cerberus said:

Oh that it were, indeed. It may be that I hold my view strongly because I have found CBT extremely effective in my own life. I am entirely prepared to accept the possibility that a person's feelings can be prompted by another, and that the responsibility for the control of those feelings lies in the response. That also is plausible to me, but it does not alter my underlying premise that lays the onus upon the person feeling the effect to make a rational personal assessment of what that response should be. You suggest that severe trauma may lead to situations where limbic response does take over the person's response beyond rational control, and has identified treatment methodologies; i.e. it enters the realm of pathology. In most cases, I would  not think it goes as far as that.

I'm thinking about severe trauma that causes flashbacks, disabling fear of common situations/sounds, and so on. A lot of the therapy for that kind of traumatic reaction (where a fight/flight/freeze response takes over) is about exposure, with CBT and ACT applications. I do agree that it is less common than is sometimes claimed.

18 hours ago, Cerberus said:

Ish? With great respect, Geek (as always), being autistic is not something one can dangle one's toes into. You do not have the dx. Your insights have value from an NT perspective - as one observing autistics - but please realize that not being autistic, you cannot present as though you were "sort of" or "a little". I mention this only in closing, because your comments do have value.

For this, I apologize. You are of course 100% right: I do not have ASD. I didn't mean to present that I do in anyway, and I'm sorry that I did. In my first draft of the response, I included a short paragraph explaining the "ish", but later decided that I didn't want to change the subject to be about me. I'm kicking myself for not properly editing the post before hitting "submit". That's what I get for posting directly before going to bed.

The "ish" was a nod to several ongoing conversations I've had elsewhere, as a member of a population that, while not necessarily Autistic, is decidedly not "neurotypical" (or even typically atypical). I'm different - but it is not the same as being Autistic. I shouldn't have co-opted the terminology to suggest otherwise.

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Being autistic and a sexual assault survivor, I see a lot of different points of view. I've given the creepy stares, and I've gotten them. There's a point where people are held accountable for their actions no matter what, even in the case of autism. (This I would know, since being autistic did not get me out of a few wrong things I've done in my life.)

I would hope that appropriate intervention is given these days, so that people with autism know at least enough boundaries to be able to stay out of trouble, and harm's way. I've been fortunate enough to have people looking out for me in my life, to teach what is appropriate and what isn't. Some days I do forget though.

I think the biggest issue is when do people have to take the fall (responsibility, blame) for their actions, despite their disability. And I really do see it as it depends upon the severity and nature of the autism, and perhaps a conversation with the autistic individual and family members of such individual, should something like that happen, and giving them the right and benefit of being able to speak for themselves and defend themselves with an advocate present. (As a side note, odd or "creepy" looks are one thing, full on sexual assault is different, and spreading it over social media is never a kind thing to do to anyone, period. That's your personal business, and honestly, it may be best to keep it as such.)

I know my opinion may be a little bit of an unpopular one, but it is just that, an opinion. 

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When in doubt, I hope this helps:

Just say "I'm sorry, is it ok if...." e.g. "I look at your tattoo?"

or

"I'm sorry, if I am bothering you tell me to go away"

or

"am I bothering you?"

or

"are you sure I'm not annoying?"

or

"tell me to go away and I will!"

 

assuming they weren't invited to join the conversation to begin with, nice guys say this stuff all the time and one of them is now my boyfriend. They double, triple, quadruple check that you aren't just being polite (or afraid!) and that you are genuinely ok with them having come up to you to talk to you. I don't think the people who told the first two stories expected anything to be done, I think they just wanted to share a story about something that made them uncomfortable and an example of what not to do.

In fairness i even know a guy who was "a bit of a player" who STILL did this because just because yes he had lots of sex and yes consent was still INCREDIBLY important to him, as it is to any decent person! So doing this doesn't make you look weak or any of that made up nonsense from PUA and other communities that worry looking for consent means reducing your chances of having sex.

 

Edit:

NEVER say:

"I'm not going to hurt you"

That is one of the scariest things and I can't even count how many times strange men have said this to me. On the face of it it looks nice, right? Oh good, he's not going to hurt me. Nuh-uh. Terrifying.

Edited by Antecedent

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      Specific to prescription medications to help induce sleep, we've tried over 15. Almost all medications have had a paradoxical effect on him (activating vs. sedating). None have helped with sleep. 
      He's been on risperidone for about 3 years. No other meds.
      We have not tried Trazadone (and probably many others).
      ANY ideas are welcome!
       
       
       
    • By Southern Discomfort
      I've just gone down on risperidone, from 2 mg back down to 1 mg. This is part of the plan to shift things around a bit and depend a little more on lamotrigine than risperidone because I'm a little worried about my increased prolactin levels, it sort of looks like I'm growing breasts a lot of the time and of course I don't like that. No one has actually told me my prolactin levels outside of "it's higher than normal". What "normal" means is anyone's guess because they're either not telling me or can't tell me. Whatever. At any rate I don't like it so the plan is to keep risperidone down to a minimum, I originally felt bit from my so-called "psychotic" symptoms at 1 mg anyway.
      Maybe I should have gone up in lamotrigine before lowering risperidone again. I've had a harder time with my self-esteem again in the last couple of days and I don't feel as happy generally as I did before. I had a bad appointment with my psychiatrist on Wednesday, I came out feeling pretty much like shite. I tried to explain my difficulty with sudden plans people make, the one example I used was the friends from my peer group decided they wanted to go for a coffee after the session further up in town. I couldn't do it, there wasn't enough notice for me and I already got it into my head that I was going to go home and I couldn't change the route now, my anxiety went up as a result. Instead of "trying to pathologise it" my psychiatrist tried to push the idea that if I condition myself more to try things I'm not expecting that it would come more easily to me in the future. I understand where he's coming from and maybe that's true but I also don't necessarily believe it will work. My social worker and my old psychiatrist told me I'm autistic and my understanding of it is that changes in routine don't really suit people with autism. My old psychiatrist was great, I'm still annoyed he decided to leave for Exeter, he explained to me that if I try to "normalise" (for lack of a better term) my autistic traits my tics and anxiety would get worse as a result. So with that knowledge trying to condition myself to joining in with out of the blue activities seems counter intuitive. I'm now confused of what to do with myself. This new psychiatrist won't even give me a diagnosis for anything and I have a lot of doubt in my head about the Asperger's thing because whilst there is a fair bit I do relate to there is also a lot I don't. I spend nearly every waking hour reading about autism trying to piece bits together of how it affects me BECAUSE NO FUCKING PROFESSIONAL WILL TELL ME. I feel like making a Freedom of Information request because they just won't tell me anything. Either that or just not talking to any of them again and just shutting down completely.
      I have a hard time trying to express myself at the best of times. Trying to get words out of my head onto paper or verbally is very hard because I just don't know how to start myself and these things escape me before I even have a chance to grab hold them. It's a miracle that I got this far into writing about myself. Every time I meet with my psychiatrist or social worker they ask me, "How have you been?" I don't know how to answer that. Generally? Over the last from days? How do I sum it up without over or under appreciating what I've felt? I try to distract myself from my thoughts at the best of times with my interests so that masks a lot of what I feel so it's not like I have full excess to my thoughts and feelings at the best of the time because if I did I would be drowning. 
      I don't really feel like I have anyone to talk to about these things, no one who can truly relate to what I feel or do anything about it. I have one cousin who also has Asperger's that I might be able to open up to but I don't know if I can or not. I feel like if I try to make attempts to talk to people that I might come across as needy so I generally don't bother, I also don't know the appropriate amount of time before chatting to someone again so I just avoid doing it all together. He's is especially the case of this because he doesn't seem to want to chat to his family a lot of the time and he deleted his mum and one of his sisters off Facebook and his other sister thinks she's only hanging on by a thread so I don't want that to happen to me because I genuinely like the guy.
      I just don't know what to do. I feel alone and confused.
    • By WinterTidings
      Hi everyone,
      I/we just joined up because.. Eh. Needing support/people who relate and such. Social media's alright, but the privacy is always wonky and the ability to compartmentalise isn't so great. Forums/IRC are better for this kinda thing, I think.
      Anyway, yeah. Barrel of raccoons, etc. We have a long list of things, most diagnosed, some not (some by choice.. I don't want DID going anywhere near my medical record. :x). I keep thinking I've processed my abuse stuff and then discovering yet another delicious core of it under the next layer. Heh. My resolution this year at least is to not end up like 2015.. Too many near misses on suicide (we suck at it, it turns out), too much.. Retreating back indoors, not doing anything, not going anywhere.. Barely creating like we used to. So, yeah. I want to change. However, treatment-resistance is a pain on that front (in the 'my brain chemistry gives no fucks for your puny pills' sense, rather than 'my doctor thinks I talk back too much and all I got was this crappy diagnosis' sense). I took about 15-20 variations on antidepressants before throwing the towel in at hardcore-MAOIs (having to give up ADD meds, painkillers and basically-eating? Nah.).
      Anyway, pluralwise there's four of us. We'll probably all stick our noses in here once in a while. I'm Whisper. There's also Wynn, Tri and Felix. We're fairly recently plural.. Had a breakdown last year and that did it, I think.
      Also;
      * Autistic
      * ADD
      * C-PTSD (not diagnosed yet but plain as day)
      * General Anxiety Stuff that includes panic attacks, OCD symptoms, social anxiety.
      * Chronic Pain from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
      * Depression-Dysthemia (Chronic/Severe/Treatment Resistant)
      * Oh, we get psychogenic seizures, too. Trying not to be embarrassed about that.
      Er. Anyway. Hi.
    • By maiamaia
      This is selfish and stupid, but i will waste your time to ask opinions, as i am desperate.
      When i was 11 i got severely bullied (physical, violent) at a new school for a year before my mother realised and moved me. Before, she kept telling me 'ignore them, they'll go away'. I took the bullying by gangs surrounding me to mean, you deserve to be annihilated, to die, die; and my mother's instructions to mean, you have no right to defend yourself. This was a physically felt meaning, not pondering. Looking for an explanation, i found fundamentalist christianity which said: you were born evil and deserve to be tortured for all eternity and only constant begging forgiveness and a complete change of personhood can save you. Nobody around had any psychological understanding - this was long ago - and i had no-one to talk. As a christian i tried to 'kill myself alive' because I didn't have the guts to kill myself but hated myself and wanted to kill myself, which continues, I am a sadist against myself.
      I got along in life by ignoring my emotions that's where they lead and instead being logical and disciplined: I planned my work and worked my plan. Everything failed, over and over again, I will only give a few examples: I turned out to be infertile after trying to get pregnant for seven years, I trained for various jobs and got work experience but could never pass interviews; my back gave way at random and still does and is painful but I never got a diagnosis. Finally, every last hope I had of escaping the life I hated, of constant mental pain and suicidal ideation (it's called? i had severe bouts of wanting to or fearing that i would kill myself eg six months in bed unable to move saying 'die' over and over, or one day waking with nothing but terror which lasted a fortnight, throughout my life, but no realistic suicide attempts) but with other emotions as well, failed within a year. Something inside me snapped and everything gave way. I had substituted constant going out and huge acquaintance for lack of friends throughout my life, but I found out I knew no-one I could talk to. Everything had always interested me, but suddenly all my 'interests' left me cold. I had always had a vivid, creative imagination constantly bubbling away with new ideas and plans, I could come up with original and creative stuff in every field, it was the only way I passed academically, my ideas were always novel: suddenly it had vanished. I've never trusted my own mind, or that things were real. I kept finding myself crying or shrieking 'I can't take it any more, I can't bear it' but I don't know what this meant, I often couldn't breathe from the pain, I couldn't bear to live another moment, I couldn't sleep. I live deep in a village and can't drive, I would go off into the fields so I could shriek or scream or roll around crying on the ground. This intense level of pain lasted about 3 months and then a lesser level another 3 or 6. I learned to control it by not thinking about the past or future because these are what set the fear off but pretending every day is an identical repeat. I don't have the physical effects like exhaustion any more but I have lost the ability to do mental arithmetic, at which I excelled, and spelling. Even if the art therapist says 'draw something' I think 'draw a line' but have to find one to copy, so my imagination's gone. It's been three years but I can't get any clue what's wrong with me and what happened.
      At the time I was volunteering at a school in the hopes of getting enough experience to adopt. I really believed that if I told the parents at the open evening that I was a paedophile*, they would lynch me: I wanted to die, the pain was unbearable, but I was too cowardly to do it myself. I really believed I would definitely die and no-one would blame them and everybody would be happy and it would cause no trouble. I'm not proud I did it but really can't remember it properly, it's like it happened to another person. So I'm on the sex offenders' list, I have to avoid one town and large parts of two others (only 3 within easy reach), and some part of me thought, maybe my perception of reality is wrong. (Duh.) I forced the doctor to send me to a psychiatrist and they also assessed me for autism (their idea) and my diagnosis is autism.
      But I think I am mentally ill. Not knowing what the pain and fear are that coming upon me at random or if I dare to think about life is unbearable. I want to know what's wrong with me and what happened: where did my feelings go? Why did my cognitive function (eg short term memory, all thinking) suddenly and sharply degrade; my imagination vanish overnight; my feelings disappear; all my interests? At the time I felt terrified that I was falling in an endless void deaf and blind, like a trapdoor opened in life and everything turned into 2D scenery and I fell; now it feels like there is one world inside my skull and another outside. I spend most of my day distracting myself with the internet and reading, usually I feel a pleasant dull numbness and just bouts of this fear-pain.
      I get art therapy and have twice seen a psychiatric nurse. If I say to any of them 'I am in fear, what is this pain' they just say 'I don't know' 'how strange' 'you tell me'. They won't say anything's wrong with me or anything happened. I didn't expect them to cure me but I did expect a diagnosis. At first they said it was autism, now they make out it's only happened to me and it's a complete mystery. They want me to repeat my former life eg join evening classes because then I will make friends, for the first time in half a century, miraculously, and have meaning in my life. But I hated my life, I studied and worked to escape it, my meaning was escaping that hell, for decades. I lost all hope and meaning vanished with it. What I experienced was emotional exhaustion: I had had so many painful knockbacks, and each time I ignored my feelings, relied on discipline, picked myself up and started again. But this time something snapped inside like old elastic, went limp, didn't respond. It's like you have to manufacture emotions each time you feel them and I am too exhausted inside to make these emotions, I just feel flat and can't respond to things (people, ideas, events).
      I don't want anyone to think I live in constant suffering: weirdly, after five years' unemployment I got a job, I spend as long commuting by rural bus as at work, and so kill a lot of time. Everything is perfectly pleasant: but it is like spending your life imprisoned in a luxury doctor's waiting room, with all the entertainment you might want, food, warmth, drink, toilets, beds, but no meaning in life, no point, terrifying if you think about it and perfectly pleasant if you refuse to.
      I have to ask you to believe me that, by poverty, not driving, and rural location, there is almost no service or person or self-help group I can access, nearly all I have found by constant internet and IRL search have said 'no, your case is too difficult', I have finally found one psychotherapist who says she will teach me the correct way to talk and listen next year.
      I totally accept the autism diagnosis, and it explains a lot – inability to pass my first thousand job interviews (my calculation is I have been to that many, since I often had several a week and have spent most of several decades jobhunting unemployed), inability to ever make close friends, not knowing how I feel until it's too late. But I can't get over my fear of not knowing what happened or how to predict if it will happen again, if things will change (after 3 years I assume not) etc. What I want isn't sympathy (my selfpity is limitless!) but information about what this strange numbness is, this failure to work of your emotions, what happened in the sudden crisis of pain? I just want to know what that is, or have some clue. I am a sceptic and doubt everything, nobody should be afraid that by suggesting an idea I will obey it or suffer: in fact, I argue with every suggestion, I can't help it, rudely so. I am sorry to waste your time so much, but if you have experienced anything similar or have any suggestions, I would be fascinated to hear them. I am not set on believing I am mentally ill or in search of any diagnosis, I am open to any ideas and have searched autism info for explanations: I just want to understand, to have a clue where I am and what happened to me. Thanks in advance, maia (UK)
      *i don't like sex, with children or otherwise, i'm frigid, though as a woman, I have done it, by lying there, rigid with embarrassment
      NB i have dyspraxia-autism, not rainman/Grandin type, i have no short or long term memory, balance, spatial perception, hate maths, can't bear to be alone, no sensory issues etc i just can't recognise my emotions or express them or read others' emotions or therefore share feelings
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