Advocacy for emotionally abused women (some questions if you have time!)

I’m very late (50s) in getting correct dx and support for what turns out to be developmental trauma (dx PTSD), ASD, OCD, and a lot of ADHD traits. There’s so much overlap in symptoms and challenges. (And superpowers - which get minimized when racking up pathologies to obtain services).

I was dx with depression when starting college, and on antidepressants that did nothing but led to believe my sadness was my fault. I had an abusive make psychiatrist, other dismissive female professionals (it’s just anxiety honey here’s more Xanax), and several rounds of life-threatening autoimmune episodes that I’m now certain were triggered as somatic stress responses to parallel family events/demands of me.

It took ME doing the research to piece it together, first arriving at Asperger’s/ASD after severe burnout a few years ago, to the point of shutdown and loss of adaptive functioning. I had to slog through an appeal to get SSDI, after multiple doctors and therapists concurred that my self-observations were on target. What inadvertently came out of the dx process was labeling of “history of significant trauma.” Really? That’s now considered “abuse”? Mine was very complex family systems and emotional/psychological. Raised by loving grandparent, already intergenerational trauma and tragedies, uBPD/NPD mother dx only with depression and anxiety, lost contact with father at age 4 (no shared custody in those days), contentious covert uNPD second husband of bio mother when I was 6, I said no to adoption, ensuing triangulation and removal from caregiver for their selfish reasons to obtain better military housing, later return to caregiver, her terminal illness, inheritance fight and financial abuse following - every year or two some other disaster, drama or upheaval. I’m now solidly no contact. I’ve seen the dysfunction play out in a half sister (dx bipolar) and her children, so I know it’s not just me.

I was missed because I was an A student, excelled in a small school, and became hellbent on being a super-achieving machine to outrun unrecognized anxiety and emotional pain. I’ve spent my life trying to prepare myself in advance for threat, and many real trials have come just when I let my guard down. I made everyone proud but am a relentless self-critic. It took 50 years to have the truth of the hatred toward me come out - when I tried to explain my dx and needed help. I became an instant scapegoat.

Abuse often doesn’t look like abuse. “Smart” women and girls - especially great at masking - must meet ridiculous double standards and invalidation. There’s a huge gap in services between the autism and trauma support communities. With the dearth of adult ASD support don’t get me started!

Despite the difficulties, overall I’ve found unexpected kindness and encouragement from current professionals who are younger by 1-2 decades. It’s taking a new generation of understanding. Key to making any of this work is tenacious research and self-advocacy, unconditional love from one older person as a child, and help from my spouse going through the same dx’s in parallel! I couldn’t have done this alone.

A final note: was encouraged to see on recent gyn visit that nurse did a screener for domestic abuse but to every question where I would’ve answered “yes - family,” she told me that wasn’t included in the multiple choice. Interpersonal family trauma will stay taboo, suppressed and unreported, despite advances in DV awareness.

/r/emotionalabuse Thread