There are many myths surrounding domestic violence. There are misconceptions that people who either perpetrate or experience abuse are from poor families, are mentally unstable, are not religious, or are uneducated, among others. These myths are just that: myths. Anyone can experience domestic violence regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, or age. It does not matter if either partner is rich or poor, uneducated or educated, and abuse does occur in partnerships that practice religion. It does not make a partner weak or stupid if he or she stays in an abusive relationship as there are countless factors that lead to a partner staying in an abusive relationship such as threats, economics, fear, children, lack of resources, isolation, and so forth.
There is also a common misconception that domestic violence only occurs in heterosexual relationships. Domestic violence can, and does, occur in non-heterosexual relationships. In fact, according to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 39 percent of males involved in intimate homosexual relationships have experienced battering within the past five years and 11 percent of women involved in intimate homosexual relationships report having been physically assaulted, raped, and/or stalked. The Network/La Red estimates that 25 to 33 percent of LGBTQ people are abused by a partner. There are many ways in which societal structures allow partners in homosexual relationships to gain further power and control over their partner as well. Some of these ways include the threat of “outing” a partner when the partner has not chosen to identify his/her sexual orientation yet, convincing the partner that no one will help him/her because of sexual orientation, making the partner feel as though no one would believe that domestic violence occurs in non-heterosexual relationships, and/or using the partner’s past relationships (perhaps with a partner of the opposite sex) as a way to examine whether the partner is “really” transgender, lesbian, or gay.
However, there are resources and help for those who experience domestic violence in the LGBTQ community. Many domestic violence agencies provide information, resources, and services but there are also specialized agencies that focus on providing services specifically to people who identify as members of the LGBTQ community. For instance, The Network/La Red is based out of Boston and “offers free services for survivors of partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and/or transgender (LGBQ/T), SM/kink and Polyamorous communities.” Their services include safe homes, counseling, community organizing, and education. In fact, they will be on campus on Tuesday, Oct. 28 presenting a workshop on LGBTQ Partner Violence from 6 to 7:30pm in Meneely 102. I encourage everyone to come and participate in this incredibly important workshop.
I wrote a few weeks ago that domestic violence does occur on our campus and that some members of our community are perpetrators of that violence and some members are victims/survivors. I would like to also reiterate that this is not just occurring in the heterosexual partnerships on our campus and we should all be aware of how we discuss this issue as we can never be sure of who around us has experienced abuse or is currently experiencing abuse.
For more information, check out the board in Balfour all week long or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website at www.thehotline.org or call the 24-Hour Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. For The Network/La Red, visit their website at tnlr.org or call the 24-Hour Hotline at 1-617-742-4911. And if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
And always remember that any form of abuse is never okay.