Aspergers and Revenge
People with Aspergers Syndrome get bullied. We’re misunderstood and well-intentioned so that just paints a big ol’ red target right on our backs for any one who feels the need to tear down others to make themselves feel better. Aspie kids get bullied.
A lot of people with Aspergers, both children and adults, do not retaliate. They fail to retaliate, not because they think it would be wrong, but because they simply don’t know what to do or lack the confidence to follow through. This only builds resentment, which when left unchecked will result in an emotional explosion which could be disproportionately violent or abusive in the host situation.
On the other hand, there are also aspies who do seek revenge against those who wrong them. Sometimes they act hastily with short-sightedness and hot tempers. Other times, they think of an intricate and clever plot that would do significant damage to their target without any evidence of the perpetrator at all.
Both of the responses listed above are wrong. As a mother, I have the responsibility to teach my children how to approach the world as healthy, balanced, productive adults. I don’t teach my children to bully, I don’t tell them to win at all costs, and you’ll never see me in the news for murdering my daughter’s competitors to secure her win. That’s just not the kind of energy, attitude and influence I want my children putting into the world.
The desire to counter attack is natural. It is right to feel injured when someone injures you. It is right to want to defend yourself and prevent further attack. It is not right to act out in a way that damages other people. There is simply no way to justify injuring someone because they injured you in a different way.
In his third grade year, my son was suspended for two days of school for punching another student. That student had been bullying him for months. The school knew about it and did nothing except encourage my son to tell the bully to stop picking on him. One day, my son had enough. The bully was pushing him and refused to stop so my son punched his lights out. I support my son for that. I would not have supported my son if, instead of hitting him back, he had slashed the child’s bike tires or poured milk over his school books. What my son did was defending himself. What I offered as unacceptable options is what we call revenge.
My son was moved out of that school for fourth grade, by the way. I don’t tolerate schools who support bullies but not the children who defend themselves from the bullies.
Personally, I have experienced some deplorable behavior from former partners. There was an alcoholic who was physically and verbally abusive. To an extent, he still is abusive and an alcoholic who will not stay on the wagon. There was also a philandering narcissist who danced the line between sex addiction and self loathing. He now continues his dance with his current wife. The abusive alcoholic stole, sold and destroyed 90% of my things, including irreplaceable photographs and documents. There were other ex-partners who had sticky fingers on their way out. I didn’t seek revenge against any of these people. I just ended the relationship and walked away. The abusive alcoholic and philandering narcissist I still deal with because they are “baby daddies” but other than legal and moral obligations for co-parenting, I have no investment in these people. I’m not going to put energy into harming them any more than I’d put energy into pleasing them. I feel that I did what was within my control to do based on the choices that they made: I ended the relationship and left.
I feel it’s important to teach my children the value of holding yourself on such a level that you respect yourself too much to lower yourself to acts of revenge. Especially, I would like my aspie son, who is prone to misunderstanding and a confusion about potential bullies and unacceptable behavior, to understand his options and be able to choose a self-respecting, appropriate response. I’ll support him every time he knocks a guy out for pushing him around, but he needs to know that it begins and ends there.
My daughter is young but her vibrant personality is very attractive to other kids. Since kids desire to hurry up with more grown-up behavior so badly, she’s already had so-called “boyfriends”, despite a complete lack of actual dating or romantic behavior with these boys. They are friends, really. When a “boyfriend” “broke up” with my daughter for bogus reasons, she was very angry; but, I talked her out of seeking revenge. I pointed out that there’s basically a line of guys waiting to be called her boyfriend so this is obviously his loss. The sooner she realized that by accepting this boy’s decision calmly and moving on, the sooner that boy regretted his decision. By then, of course, it was too late. My daughter had moved on. They are friends now, which ironically, looks identical to when they were “dating”. It is funny, but I was happy to see my daughter take my advice and maneuver the situation without lashing out to hurt this boy for the decisions that he made.
I can only hope that there are more parents out there teaching this to their children so we don’t continue to have a population of adults who think their unlawful, unethical and outright infantile behavior is justified via the poor, hurtful decisions made by others. I can hope.