Christine McGuinness has opened up about being s*xually abused when she was nine years old.
The model and TV personality, 34, has spoken frankly about her adult autism diagnosis and investigates why it’s harder for women and girls to get a diagnosis in comparison to boys in the new BBC documentary, Christine McGuinness: Unmasking My Autism.
The BBC documentary explores how women and girls might struggle to get a diagnosis because of the old perception that autism mostly affects men and boys or because females are better at ‘masking’ or camouflaging their autistic traits.
But it also delves into why autistic women might be more at risk of s*xual abuse.
Rosie Creer, the clinical director of Respond, an abuse support charity for autistic people and people with learning disabilities said one reason why autistic women can be at risk of s*xual abuse is that they are left out of friendship groups growing up.
Christine, who was 33 when she got her diagnosis in 2021, shared that she was s*xually abused from the age of nine to 11 and was raped at the age of 14.
“I used to pray and it’s sad now when I think about it, I’d pray every night that I didn’t wake up in the morning. I didn’t want to live. Just because it was so awful. It was so awful.”
The mum-of-three is not alone as a 2022 study in which 225 people completed an online survey suggests nearly nine in 10 autistic women have been victims of ‘s*xual violence’, the BBC reports.
The researchers said that ‘two-thirds of the victims were very young when they were first assaulted’.
Clinical director at the National Autistic Society, Dr. Sarah Lister Book, says a large number of autistic women and girls report experiences of s*xual assault which may be coercive, physical, or s*xual abuse.
“This is a serious and deeply concerning issue,” she said.
Christine says in the documentary that she often found it difficult to maintain friendships and she struggled to keep her focus in school. She left when she was 14 without any qualifications.
She also shared that she only eats food that is ‘dry and beige’ ever since childhood and she had an eating disorder when she was younger that made her periods stop.
Christine is also hypersensitive to sound and smell which can make busy or noisy situations difficult.