One problem with being an autistic woman is that it can be very difficult to tell when something occurs because you're autistic or because you're a woman or if it's because of both.
'A woman's intuition' is a thing that most, if not all of us have heard of and, yet, we're often written off as 'hysterical' or 'dramatic' when we utilize it. Most of us have an internal alarm system to warn us when we're in danger but a lifetime of hearing that we're just being drama queens can cause us to ignore those alarms which can lead to finding ourselves in bad situations that should have been avoided.
I can't speak for any other woman out there but I know that almost every abusive situation I have found myself in had plenty of red flags pop up that I either ignored or excused away because I second guessed myself and doubted my internal alarm system. I believe on some level abusers know this and count on it. The abuse --> abuser's expressed remorse --> victim's forgiveness cycle just perpetuates it.
"See? I was wrong. They're a good person. I know because they feel really bad about it."
As an autistic, it is very easy for me to miss malicious intent because I simply can't comprehend it. Oh, I've had it explained to me a million times and I could list off the reasons I've heard given for it but my brain still can't wrap around it. I end up dismissing my inner voice when it tries to speak up on the matter because of this. "Whoa. That was really mean but why would they be mean to me? I must be misunderstanding."
Some people get off on hurting others. Some people get off on control. It's a thing. We know it's a thing and yet we let badness slide because we second guess ourselves. Why do we do this? Especially those of us who have had the unfortunate experience of finding ourselves in these situations more than once? Nothing makes me annoyed with myself faster than the realization that I have made the same mistake more than once. Fortunately most of the people in recent years that I have formed relationships with, whether romantic or platonic in nature, have been with good people. I don't think there are as many bad apples as it can appear sometimes but they sure do a lot of damage when they turn up.
As an autistic I am pretty good at spotting patterns of behavior but I think I need to streamline my approach to assessing potentially abusive relationships. I don't need to be kicked in the face multiple times to determine that someone is a facekicker. We all have the right to protect ourselves and I'm adopting a 'one strike and you're out' system from this point forward. I am very open and this gives abusers a lot of ammunition. Instead of hiding to protect myself I have decided to continue to be open and simply observe how people respond to my openness. If I mention I'm bi and they respond by telling me what shits bi people are? I know they're unsafe. If I mention I'm autistic and they respond by being condescending or gaslighting me? I know they're not safe. Instead of saying,"Why would they be mean to me? I must be misunderstanding." I will say,"Unfriend. Unfollow. Block."
My gut feeling has been right, time and time again, and I need to stop gaslighting myself and start listening to it when it's warning me.