Autistic Women Face Three Instances the Danger of Sexual Assault


A current examine of 4,500 Swedish twins discovered that autistic ladies from ages 9-18 had been 3 times as more likely to expertise sexual assault when in comparison with their neurotypical counterparts. This statistic is especially alarming as women and girls with traits of ASD (Autism Spectrum Dysfunction) already face difficulties receiving the analysis, with the common age of analysis being 16 years of age. Kirsten Lindsmith, an autistic advocate and blogger, explains why these ladies are at an elevated threat for sexual assault:

“Autistic individuals have a sort of handbook transmission mind, as we’ve to study social abilities, as an alternative of it coming naturally. This combines with patriarchy, consent tradition, and points with sexuality. We don’t cognitively multitask very properly and studying social conditions doesn’t occur intuitively. In our society, plenty of how sexuality and courtship works is oblique, not overt, and requires this dance of nonverbal communication. Autistic persons are not inherently outfitted except they study it painstakingly, after which it typically nonetheless takes much more effort to keep up. It’s a drawback.”

Looking in at patrons at a seated restaurant or cafe through a misty window.

Not solely do social deficits put them at larger threat for sexual assault, however additionally it is steady social rejection that’s typically part of rising up autistic. This could result in elevated receptivity to optimistic social consideration, making it troublesome to differentiate true, heat friendship from predatory behaviour:

“Having that directed optimistic consideration might be so hypnotizing for somebody with that background. There’s this degree of social trauma in autism that can steadily make individuals actually grateful to somebody who’s directing plenty of optimistic consideration. Sexual want from predators can look rather a lot like optimistic consideration, being pleasant, actually liking you, considering you’re humorous. All a lot of these issues that don’t come from oblique courtship. They’re going to speak to you particularly greater than different individuals, smile at you, take a look at you extra, possibly stand near you, contact you somewhat – all these issues that you could be be starved for.”

With regards to what we will do to counteract this threat of sexual assault for autistic women and girls, Lindsmith suggests a number of methods which may be useful, equivalent to asking direct questions when emotions of discomfort come up:

“I prefer to ask questions, as I discover that saying no outright is usually harmful, and asking questions can have the identical impact with a lot much less hazard. ‘What are we going to do there?’ Being authentically your self while you’re confused or offended could be very protecting.”

Two young women walking through a city centre.

Different choices embrace implementing a buddy system and discovering methods to have open conversations with trusted family and friends on boundaries in relationship. With the ability to talk about one’s ideas and emotions isn’t solely a useful supply of assist, but additionally permits for others to present individuals on the spectrum concrete recommendation on easy methods to navigate troublesome and uncomfortable conditions. Nonetheless, this selection is mostly extra accessible for women and will place autistic boys at a drawback. Lindsmith explains:

“The buddy system is among the sources that autistic women and girls typically have that isn’t as straightforward to entry for autistic boys and males. Tony Atwood calls this the ‘Mom Hen buddy’ phenomenon, the place woman gender tradition encourages nurturing, guiding behaviour. Women are far more prepared to take somebody underneath their wing, train the nerdy buddy easy methods to costume. Say you go to a celebration, you don’t go alone, you go along with your Mom Hen buddy, who you belief, and don’t go away their facet. Act like they’re your service canine.”

With all of this in thoughts, among the best methods to scale back the danger of sexual assault for autistic individuals could merely lie in consciousness. Facilitating this understanding of this threat for the person, their mates, household, and therapist can enhance entry to the proper of assist.

I feel the very best factor is to only bear in mind that that is actual. It’s actual, it occurs to everybody, and it’s not one thing you’re protected against simply since you don’t give it some thought.”

– Elizabeth Liu, Contributing Author

Picture Credit:
Characteristic: Aleksandar Kurešević at Unsplash, Inventive Commons
First: Jack Finnigan at Unsplash, Inventive Commons
Second: kevin laminto at Unsplash, Inventive Commons


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