Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word.
A twitter follower asked that I talk about domestic violence between gay couples. She is a survivor and feels there is no enough information about interpersonal violence between same-sex couples.
She writes “I came out when I was a young adult, in my early twenties. My first relationship felt secure at first. A safe and understanding person to help me adjust to being open, to navigate all the issues I had to deal with between friends and family and within myself. I didn’t see the inequality in the relationship at first. I didn’t see that the structure in our relationship was actually controlling of me. When it went from emotional to verbal and finally to violence, I finally realized I was in an abusive relationship. It took longer to leave because I was financially dependent by then. I did find a way to end the relationship. Then the next struggle began. I live in an area without many resources and almost none that focus on domestic violence in lesbian relationships. It took awhile for me to find a counselor to help me. What is out there for us?”
Domestic or partner violence in lesbian and gay relationships is considered a silent epidemic. Between 17 – 45 % of lesbian report having experienced domestic violence. Framing domestic violence as something that only happens between heterosexual couples does a disservice to abuse in lesbian and gay couples.
Partner violence in any coupling has similarities: The abuser wants to gain and maintain control and to avoid feelings of loss and abandonment. However, there are some differences. A unique element for lesbians is the presence of a homophobic environment. Susa Rose of the National Violence Against Women Research Center, reports that this enables the abusive partner to exert “heterosexist control” over the victim by threatening to “out” the victim to friends, family, or employer or threatening to make reports to authorities that would jeopardize child custody, immigration, or legal status. The homophobic environment also makes it difficult for the victim to seek help from the police, victim service agencies, and battered women’s shelters.
How can you help?
To support a lesbian who is the target of partner violence:
Let her know that she can call you for help. Help her develop a safety plan concerning how she will get out if she needs to leave quickly, including having a bag prepared and easily accessible with essential documents (including identification, money, and anything else that might be needed), and arranging a place to stay in an emergency. Give her the keys to your house. Do not give up and do not criticize her or turn her away because she does not leave right away.
If you are in a city that has an Anti-Violence Project connected to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (http://www.avp.org), tell her about the services of your local AVP. Many AVPs provide counseling, advocacy with the police and criminal justice system and support groups.
Help her find a therapist that specializes in lesbian partner abuse.
For help or information? Here are some options…
If you have been raped, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room.
For information on how to report in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100, that is 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 West Grace Street.
To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.
For those in Virginia who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer or questioning, you can access a free and confidential telephone service called The LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline at 1.866.356.6998 Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 pm for help regarding intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. The Virginia Anti-Violence Project at virginiaavp.org stands ready to work with anyone who wants to address anti-LGBTQ violence in Virginia and to help build safe communities. The number again is: 1.866.356.6998.
For listeners from outside of Virginia: GLBT National Hotline @ 1-888-843-4565 or go to GLNH.org/hotline/
For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.
Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at www.thevword.org
The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3, read and produced by me, Carol Olson.