Taylor Edison, a woman who uses this name as a pseudonym, recently spoke out about her horrifying childhood, in which she was sexually abused repeatedly as a child. Elite Daily reports, Edison was diagnosed with autism as a young girl and lacked support from her friends and family. Her mother struggled with issues of her own, and her father was reportedly out of the picture. According to The UK Mirror, “She says she never knew her dad, while her mum often told her she was ‘retarded.'”
As a result of this loneliness, Edison befriended an older, married man named Tom who would care for her by cooking her meals and engaging her in meaningful conversations regularly. After struggling to find friends at school and the lack of support from her family, she found comfort in Tom. Her seemingly innocent relationship with Tom took a drastic turn when he raped her. In her book, Edition writes that “I was prepared to do whatever would make Tom happy, for his own sake and so that I didn’t lose my only friend.” After the progression from cuddling to touching to a rape incident, Tom began to pimp Edison out, proceeding to allow multiple men to rape her on a nightly basis. Edison was 12 years old at the time.
Edison additionally shared with The UK Mirror, ‘The report states Edison, now 22 years old, would be ‘lying on a filthy bed, with a box of tissues, a pack of wet wipes and a bottle of vodka beside her’ as men lined up outside of the room she was forced into.” These traumatic events led Edison down a path of self-destruction, in which she overindulged in drugs and alcohol in order to cope. She also endured two miscarriages as a young teenager as a result of the abusive lifestyle she was forced into. One of the miscarriages resulted directly from a man pushing her down a flight of stairs after she refused to have sex with him. Edison later dated a man named Salem who at first was friendly and nurturing to her, but later developed a similar habit as Tom. Salem brought her to a friend’s flat each night at the age of 13, and there would be a line of 5-12 men outside. Edison expressed that, “I don’t have many memories of it. I was always drinking quite heavily. It was a role I had to fit into. I would see it as ‘it’s time to go to work’.”
Edison eventually gave birth to her first child, which inspired her to turn her life around and move far away from the location of her abusive childhood. She has released a book entitled, “I Know What You Are”, in which she hopes to raise awareness and prevent similar situations from happening to others. In the book, she quotes, “I had a very blinkered childhood. I didn’t really have many other children around me to compare it to.” She has recently released a new book entitled, “What is Done to You Isn’t What You Are”, alongside author Jane Smith.
Edison’s story is unfortunately not uncommon. The intersections in her identity of being both a female and an individual with special needs aren’t addressed in terms of her vulnerability in our society. There have been countless cases of abuse in individuals with autism, due to their susceptibility in misunderstanding the social implications of a situation. It is a grievous issue, but one that needs to be made public in hopes of decreasing similar instances in the future. Females are less likely to be diagnosed with autism, and sometimes the symptoms may present themselves differently as they may in males with autism. As a result, girls may be at a higher risk of going undiagnosed, but still experience symptoms of autism and the obstacles it may provide. These days, Taylor Edison is far away from her mother’s house and the traumatic memories of her past. Instead, she’s studying at a university and often seeks counseling to help with her past.
As a non profit organization, the American Autism Association is working to create a more inclusive environment for girls diagnosed with autism by offering all co-ed therapeutic programs, working to empower young women on the spectrum to receive equal access to resources as their male counterparts.