On Monday at work, a male co-worker touched my boobs. He pretended to be straightening my name badge, but he was actually touching my boobs. I waved my arms around in horror, shouting “Get away from me! Do not do that!” etc. He tried to laugh it off, as if it was a joke or a game, and I did not know if I was overreacting. I walked away from him and found another – female – co-worker who knows me well enough to know something was very wrong. Her reaction to what I told her reassured me that what he had done was wrong.
Then I started getting angry. Asperger’s Syndrome got in the way there: it stopped me from knowing that I was right to react the way I did. I have dealt with someone like this before – my male parent – who used to do things like this, and worse, for years and years and years. He would act like I was overreacting or being silly or dirty minded when he touched me or spoke to me inappropriately. He said that he was a normal Dad, thereby insinuating that I was not normal, but obviously snogging on your daughter’s neck like she’s your girlfriend is not normal.
Asperger’s Syndrome did not protect me from predators like this. I did not know that his behaviour was abnormal or wrong so I permitted it to continue. He knew how vulnerable I was, how trusting and gullible, so he knew he could keep doing it and I wouldn’t say anything because he had implied that I was abnormal if I didn’t let him do it.
And then it happened at work the other day. I haven’t been back yet, I took the day after off, and am now unsure of how to proceed. Work will be finishing soon as it’s seasonal so I don’t know whether to speak up or not.
What really, really annoys me though came later: I spoke to another colleague about this and apparently this man does things like this all the time. All the time?! Apparently all the other girls hate his guts and avoid him because of it – but no one had told ME. They allowed me to put myself in a position to be harmed in this way. I asked why no one had told me: “We thought you were friends with him”. What that means, I don’t know – do they think he wasn’t doing it to me because we were friends, or that he was doing it and I liked it?!
Not only that, because of Asperger’s, I MISSED ALL THIS. I could not see any of their body language or facial expressions that would have told me they didn’t like him or were uncomfortable around him.
WHAT THE HELL.
How could I be SO blind to social situations that it led to me being harmed in this way again?!?!?!?!?
Why didn’t they tell me?! This means I am excluded socially from a group I thought I was part of – I thought I had actually made progress, but it seems nothing could be further from the truth.
If you have an Aspie child, TELL THEM NOW what is and isn’t appropriate, and don’t just restrict it to touching behaviours. Explain to them what overfamiliarity is. Tell them to watch not only how people interact with them, but also with others – they will not even consider doing this until you tell them to. Tell them to watch for signs that people don’t like a particular person because usually there will be a grounded reason for it. Had I known to watch the reaction of the other women on my team to this man, I would have known that there was something wrong. I would have then kept myself safe.