Background to My Interest in Teaching Children with Autism

Letters to Young People – On Being Imperfect (i.e., undesirable ways to be perfectly human)
Sometimes, parents separate, and the children don’t really know why. Occasionally, it is because the parents grow apart, each no longer fulfilling their partner’s needs. Sometimes, however, it is because one or other of the partners is abusive. To put that into some kind of context, I want to acquaint you with the concept of the spousal abuser, a not uncommon enough condition.
On Spousal Abuse
The first time that I retired, I had a bit of time on my hands, and one of the things that I did to fill that time was to intern with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society’s Man to Man program, a group treatment program for spousal abusers. Spousal abusers are an interesting group, and I would like to help you to get to know them better. None of the information that I will be sharing with you originates with me; I am merely reporting what is readily available in the literature. This particular posting is composed of excerpts from Warning Signs of a Domestic Abuser – which you can find on the following website: – and I recommend that you access and read the original article. Not all of these characteristics would be expected to be found in any particular spousal abuser, but you should beware of becoming intimately involved with anyone who exhibits even a few of them.
Below are a list of behaviours, traits and beliefs which are common in abusive personalities. These are commonly known as Warning Signs of abusive personalities.
While not all abusive people show the same traits, or display the tendencies to the same extent, if several behavioural traits are present, there is a strong tendency toward abusiveness. Generally, the more warning signs are present, the greater the likelihood of violence. In some cases, an abuser may have only a couple of behavioural traits that can be recognized, but they are very exaggerated (e.g. extreme jealousy over ridiculous things).
Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
Very rarely do abusers conform to the stereotypical image of a constantly harsh, nasty or violent person, either in public or in private. More frequently the abuser portrays a perfectly normal and pleasant picture to the outside world (often they have responsible jobs or are respected and important members of the local community or Church) and reserves the abuse for you in the privacy of your own home. Nor are abusers always overtly abusive or cruel, but can display apparent kindness and consideration. This Jeckyll and Hyde tendency of the abuser serves to further confuse the victim, while protecting themselves from any form of suspicion from outsiders.
Quick Involvement
Many victims of abuse dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. The abuser will often claim ‘love at first sight’, that you are ‘made for each other’, or that you are the only person whom he could ever talk to so openly, feel so at home with, could understand him so well. He/she needs someone desperately, and will pressure you to commit to him/her or make love before you feel the relationship has reached ‘that stage’. He/she may also make you feel guilty for not committing yourself to him/her.
The abuser may try to curtail your social interaction. He/she may prevent you from spending time with your friends or family and demand that you only go places ‘together’. He/she may accuse you of being ‘tied to your mother’s apron strings’, not be committed to the relationship, or view people who are your personal friends as ‘causing trouble’ or ‘trying to put a wedge’ between you. He/she may want to live in the country without a phone, not let you use the car, stop you from working or gaining further education or qualifications.

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