Cover photo by Don Gillard
Towering over me and yelling at the top of his lungs, Antonio, my 6’4”, 280 pound muscled life partner, had me pinned against the wall–his huge, clammy left hand now grasping my neck! I couldn’t move.
All the while, the following thoughts flashed in my head: “This can’t be happening! How can the man who’s repeatedly professed his undying love be doing this to me? How can he hurt me this way? HOW???”
And then, Antonio…!
These are excerpts from my latest novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart–RAGE!” The two protagonists are ‘Tonio and Wes, who are in a monogamous relationship.
Tragically, ‘Tonio allows old demons and vicious manipulations to cause him to snap. As a result, he batters Wes—committing the horrendous act of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A).
“Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”, the riveting and searing sequel, drops in October. “FRENZY!” continues the saga of Wes and ‘Tonio, delving even deeper inside the psyches of these two men. You, the reader, will find out what buried traumas drive these men. And, get ready for more masculine romance, rich psychological drama, intrigue, action, twists and turns—and provocative sexual situations.
Right after the release of “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!,” I embark on a national book tour and IPV/A seminars/workshops. Stay tuned right here at Wyattevans.com for news and details.
Nearly two years ago, I interviewed Kyle, a victim of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse. His was a raw and revealing story.
Fortunately, he made his “Great Escape” from this life-threatening situation in just the nick of time. I decided to follow up with this survivor, to find out how life has been treating him.
Before sharing “life after,” I’m recounting his horrific experience with IPV/A. But first, let’s understand exactly what this abusive behavior is…and its ramifications.
So: Just What Is “Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)”?
In the LGBTQ community, domestic violence/abuse is generally referred to as Intimate Partner Violence/Abuse (IPV/A). The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs defines IPV/A as “a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the abuser or batterer) to exert and maintain control, through fear and intimidation, over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.”
Anyone—and I do mean anyone–can become a victim of domestic violence and abuse, regardless of size, strength, age, gender, or sexual orientation. I’m an IPV/A survivor, and know of others who’ve experienced this dysfunctional and destructive behavior first hand.
Statistics show that this form of behavior occurs with similar frequency as in heterosexual relationships. Additionally, new research suggests that a greater percentage of LGBTQ individuals are living in fear of an abusive partner than previously thought. It is estimated that each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay men are battered. About one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way—about the same as in heterosexual relationships.
However, IPV/A is often overlooked, excused, or denied. And according to psychologists/authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, the emotional abuse component is a larger problem than you believe. They state, “Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked, even by the person being abused.” Examples include using offensive/derogatory names, racial epithets and homophobic language.
As I stated in “It’s (Just) the Way That I Love You: Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse in Same-Sex Relationships,” the multi-part series I researched and wrote exclusively for Huffington Post Queer Voices, there are numerous signs of IPV/A. The most telling is fear of your partner, that you feel you have to “walk on eggshells” around him/her. Other prominent signs: excusing frequent injuries as “accidents;” agreeing to everything your partner says/does; being forced into sexual activity; isolating you; threatening to “out” you; blaming you for his/her actions.
Now, here’s the “universal Q”: Can abusers really control their behavior? Yes! Typically, according to Segal and Smith, they reserve their actions for those whom they profess to love. Abusers carefully choose when and where to strike, and cease their destructive behavior when it’s advantageous for them.
And then there’s the story of Kyle.
Kyle, a twenty-eight-year-old Caucasian, is an IPV/A survivor. He agreed to sit down with me on the condition that I refer to him by his middle name. Kyle says that “Derrick,” his ex-partner, a thirty-year-old African-American, horrifically abused him for nearly two years.
EVANS: Kyle, thanks for agreeing to share your important story. When and how did you meet Derrick?
KYLE: (His eyes light up.) It was in mid-January 2011, at a Sprint store in Laurel (Maryland). Our eyes locked, and the chemistry was instantaneous!
KYLE: He initiated a conversation, and we walked out of the store together. He took my number, and said he’d call. (Pause.) I couldn’t wait! I was so damned attracted.
EVANS: Kyle, exactly what was the attraction?
KYLE: Wyatt, I was very needy. Derrick was easy-going and self-assured, and seemed nurturing. And so handsome! He was that “daddy” I was looking for.
EVANS: When did he call?
KYLE: Late that night, and we talked for hours! Derrick wanted to see me the next evening, at my apartment. Since he was insistent, I agreed. I was flattered.
EVANS: And that evening?
KYLE: Immediately, we ended up in bed. And the sex was absolutely mind-blowing! We became a couple right after that.
EVANS: So Kyle, how long did the “honeymoon” last?
KYLE: (He laughs nervously.) Not very long. Derrick became possessive—constantly calling to check up on me. Wanting me with him practically 24/7. Isolating me. He was such an overwhelming presence.
KYLE: But being needy, I liked it–at first. Thought it was love. I kept saying to myself, “I’m so lucky to have him!”
KYLE: And the sex was a drug.
EVANS: Things became even more extreme, correct?
KYLE: Absolutely! The mind control began. Derrick told me how to think, act, and dress. And my biggest mistake was agreeing to let him move in with me.
KYLE: (suddenly becoming solemn.) The verbal—racial crap, etc.—started soon after.
EVANS: And the physical?
(Kyle takes a deep breath.)
KYLE: A few weeks after moving in, he accuses me of cheating. Totally ridiculous! Derrick was all up in my face, shouting. I was totally petrified!
KYLE: (Pause.) Then, he decks me. Hard! I fall to the floor.
(Kyle begins to sob. I ask him to take his time.)
KYLE: I was completely “out of it.” Then, Derrick grabs me by the collar, screaming, “You nasty little white whore! Wake tha f**k up! We ain’t done yet!”
KYLE: Next, he drags me to the bathroom. To the toilet! And then he…”
EVANS: And then he “what,” Kyle? (He’s sobbing heavily now, rocking back and forth. He’s in “flashback mode.”)
KYLE: He…he shoves my head into the toilet! Over and over again! (Pause.) Water’s all up my nose. I’m gasping for air. I felt like I’d pass out!
KYLE: (Long pause.) Actually, I just wanted to go to sleep…and not wake up.
(Kyle states that the verbal and physical abuse worsened and escalated. Fortunately, another gay couple helped him make his “Great Escape.”)
EVANS: Kyle, why did you stay as long as you did?
KYLE: Out of fear, shame and the stigma. (He gulps.) And definitely a serious lack of self-worth.
Kyle’s moved out of the area, and is in counseling. And, Derrick? Well, he’s doing jail time.
Fast Forward…To Now
EVANS: Kyle, it’s been awhile since we last spoke. How have you been getting along?
KYLE: Well Wyatt, I have to admit that in the beginning it was rough! What Derrick put me through shook me to my very core. (Pause.) Actually, shattered me.
EVANS: And speaking of Derrick—is he still in prison?
EVANS: Do you know when his sentence ends?
KYLE: Actually, in the not too distant future. I’m going to get confirmation on that soon.
EVANS: How do you feel about his impending release?
KYLE: (Dread washes over his face.) Not good! Not good at all.
EVANS: You began therapy right after you relocated, correct?
KYLE: I did.
EVANS: Kyle, how did that work for you?
KYLE: Well, I had to go through two counselors before finding the right one for me. She’s amazing!
EVANS: Are you still seeing her?
KYLE: Off and on now. In the beginning, I saw her once a week—sometimes twice—for a little over a year. It was a struggle, but well worth it.
EVANS: You know, I’m a strong advocate of psychological counseling. At various points in my life, I’ve been “on the couch” for different issues—including IPV/A. It was invaluable.
KYLE: Wyatt, my therapist saved my life! She helped me deal with my issues, repair my self-worth and self-esteem. Because of her, I’ve been able to put my life back together.
KYLE: (Next, he smiles.) Well, more or less.
EVANS: Kyle, I’m so happy for you! Are you dating now?
KYLE: Actually, I am! One guy. I’m taking things slow, however.
EVANS: Excellent! Kyle, what words of encouragement and wisdom do you have for victims who are trapped in an abusive relationship?
KYLE: First and foremost: no one deserves to be abused! Second: it is NOT your fault! It never is. Third: you must tell as many people as possible, people whom you trust. Somehow, you must make your “Great Escape,” the phrase you’ve coined. But keep in mind: you need a well thought-out plan and strategy before attempting to leave your abuser. That’s critical.
KYLE: I will never again allow myself to be in an abusive situation! I’ll run like hell as soon as I see the warning signs.
EVANS: Thanks so much, Kyle. Your story is an inspiration! Continued good luck to you.
KYLE: And thank you, Wyatt.
If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call: the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901). And always remember: it ain’t (just) the way that he/she loves you.