Dr Susy Ridout

Neurodiversity, Autism and Recovery from Sexual Violence


A practical resource for all those working to support victim-survivors


Recovery and survival following sexual violence are unique to each individual, and this invaluable book provides a resource for those supporting autistic and neurodivergent women to take steps towards regaining control of their life. Written from the author’s lived experience and expertise, there is a wealth of accessible guidance and practical activities that focus on making sense of events and taking time to do so. This resource provides a clear framework to explore the full range of issues arising from sexual violence, including identity, goal-setting, safety, mental and physical well-being, managing emotions, friendships, relationships and disclosure, memory, concentration and sensory experiences. It includes printable resource sheets and details of available supports to introduce to individuals or groups. Whilst targeting neurodivergent/autistic women survivors, it can be adapted by others to suit their requirements. Above all, it encourages practitioners to work respectfully with clients in the context of their experiences and evolving situations.



The level of sexual violence in our society remains at shockingly high levels. Every survivor’s story is unique, but neurodivergent persons often carry extra, unwanted baggage with them as they try to achieve recovery. This includes trained compliance, low self-esteem, and the impact of societal choices that isolate and marginalise neurodiverse children and adults through institutionalisation, impoverishment, lack of care, and enforced lack of choice over such important topics as who touches them, who they live with, where they live and what they do. Support workers need to understand how these factors impact recovery. They also need to understand and adapt to communication preferences and sensory needs.


Professionals and services involved in supporting autistic women and in working with victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse, including women’s aid centres, rape crisis centres, domestic abuse services, specialist rape and domestic advice counsellors, advocates, and practitioners in mental health and trauma services, social workers, psychologists, psychotherapists and coaches, faculty in higher education.


ISBN: 978 1 913414 97 9
Publication: December 2020

Brief Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr Mitzi Waltz, Autism consultant, trainer, author and researcher in autism, disability and inclusion

Chapter 1: Rebuilding Our Life

Chapter 2: Let’s Talk About Safety

Chapter 3: Looking After Your Mental Wellbeing

Chapter 4: Looking After Your Physical Wellbeing

Chapter 5: Managing Your Emotions

Chapter 6: Friendships, Relationships and Disclosure

Chapter 7: Memory, Concentration and Sensory Experiences


Dr Susy Ridout is an author, mentor, associate lecturer and independent researcher working in the field of autism, neurodiversity and sexual violence. As a neurodivergent victim-survivor of sexual violence, she has combined this insider experience with the knowledge and skills she has developed over a decade of mentoring in HE institutions to produce the material presented in this book.

Her doctoral study at University of Birmingham (2016) focused on ways to bring the autistic voice to the fore in research, services and resources impacting on them, and Susy has turned this to her advantage to make sense of her experience of rape. This has resulted in presentations at conferences in the UK (University of Birmingham, 2018) and abroad (Mexico, 2019), where she has voiced her experiences so that practitioners and all those working to support victim-survivors are clear as to our agenda and the dangers of imposing their own.

Susy continues authoring and mentoring and has added to this work portfolio that of Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University (neurodiversity) and bespoke training around the country. These are informed by her main fields of interest, which are neurodivergence, disability, intersectionality and sexual violence.


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