Don Burke, recently reported as a serial sexual offender, has defended his actions as the symptoms of Aspergers syndrome. Neurodiverse peeps (including those living with Aspergers) may have difficulties understanding social cues, or managing social interactions.
Men like Burke, who repeatedly offend, target specific women, and conduct ongoing, sophisticated campaigns of manipulation, exploitation, and terror, are very very good at understanding social cues and managing social interactions. They are highly manipulative and say and do things in specific ways to provoke particular responses. In simpler terms, they say and do horrid things to women because they enjoy frightening and controlling other people. They know exactly what they are doing.
In the dance world we have see these same patterns of behaviour in men like Steven Mitchell, Max Pitruzella, William Mauvais and many more. Sexual assault and harassment are about control and power. Controlling social situations and controlling other people.
Sexual offenders and rape are not random, wild, or unpredictable forces of nature like bears or earthquakes. They are calculating, deliberate individuals. And you can see them coming, identify patterns in their behaviour. One of these markers of offenders is ‘gaslighting’. Convincing women and others that they are imagining this behaviour. Convincing women to doubt themselves, and to accept the offender’s version of events.
We should not be changing our behaviour to accommodate their aggression; they should be changing their behaviour.
It is important to recognise the signs and patterns in these men’s behaviour. It is important to believe women who report them, and to support these women.
You do not need to ‘hear his side of the story’. Because he will lie and manipulate in a sophisticated way.