Tag Archives: domestic violence

Black & Blue (Is That You?)

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, or IPV/A, is no joke.  Known as domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community, IPV/A is a demoralizing, stigmatizing and potentially life-threatening cycle of behavior. 

     And IPV/A is more prevalent than once was believed: one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships is abusive in some way.  A recently-released study bears this out.  Soon, I’ll discuss the disturbing results of this landmark research.  

     As a journalist, I’ve made Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse my signature issue, and conduct national IPV/A seminars and workshops.  Just recently, I shared my own experience in a column I penned for The Advocate.  Visit:  wyattevans.com/making-a-great-escape-from-an-abusive-relationship/

     Before we go further, let’s examine exactly what Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse is…and means.  According to The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, it is “a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the abuser or batterer) to exert and maintain control over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.”  

      Each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay/SGL men are battered.  Again, IPV/A is no joke.

     According to psychologists and authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, “Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only:  to gain and maintain total control over you.  Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her ‘thumb.’  Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.  The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable.  You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.”

     Stigma is largely responsible for keeping this destructive behavior “swept under the rug,” which leads to it being dramatically underreported. Therefore, figuratively, this keeps us (locked) in the closet.  Stigma is the albatross around your neck, choking the hell outta ya. 

     Now, to the study.  Entitled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence in 2015,” and released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), it examines the experiences of 1,976 IPV/A survivors in 14 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Vermont).  This new report is the 2016 release edition.  NCAVP “works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), and HIV-affected communities.”

     According to the organization, the study “looks at the unique ways that LGBTQ and HIV-affected people experience IPV, as well as the barriers they experience when attempting to access care and support.”   The following is the report overview:

  • People of color (POC) comprised 77% of the reports of LGBTQ and HIV-affected IPV homicides, and 54% of the total number of survivors who reported to NCAVP members in 2015.
  • Transgender women were three times more likely to report experiencing sexual and financial violence.
  • LGBTQ survivors with disabilities were two times more likely to be isolated by their abusive partner and four times more likely to experience financial violence.
  • There was an increase in the percentage of undocumented survivors from 4% in 2014 to 9% in 2015.
  • Forty-four percent of survivors attempting to access emergency shelter were denied and 71% reported being denied because of their gender identity.
  • Out of the total number of survivors who interacted with law enforcement, 25% said that the police were either indifferent or hostile, and31% of LGBTQ survivors who interacted with police said they experienced misarrest.

     These findings demonstrate that it is critical to consider the multiple identities and experiences of LGBTQ victims and survivors because they substantially impact their incidences of IPV/A.  “The bias and discrimination that these communities experience everywhere, from workplaces to shelters, both makes them more vulnerable to IPV and creates unique barriers to accessing services,” the report states.  “For example, we know that LGBTQ and HIV-affected people often experience workplace discrimination, making them less financially secure. Abusive partners often take advantage of financial insecurity to control their partners, as seen in the high number of survivors experiencing financial violence.”

     The new report includes survivor stories that illustrate some of the complicated, nuanced and intersectional ways LGBTQ individuals experience IPV/A.  “’We must start listening to the experiences of LGBTQ people of color, LGBTQ undocumented people, LGBTQ people with disabilities, and transgender and gender nonconforming individuals to learn more about what these communities need to feel safe’,” stated Tre’Andre Valentine from The Network/La Red.  Some time ago, I featured this organization (located in Boston, MA) in the Huffington Post Queer Voices. 

     “’We must protect, uplift, and center those within LGBTQ communities who have been traditionally isolated and shamed for their identities and experiences’,” added Valentine.  “’It’s only with their voices at the center that we can truly begin the work of ending intimate partner violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people across the country’.”

     Now, major highlights from the report:

  • LGBTQ People Experience IPV/A in Different Ways. “This year’s report found that transgender women were three times more likely to report experiencing sexual violence and financial violence compared to survivors who were not transgender women within IPV.  Additionally, the report found that LGBTQ survivors with disabilities were two times more likely to be isolated by their abusive partner and four times more likely to experience financial violence when compared to LGBTQ survivors without disabilities.  This year there was an increase in the percentage of undocumented survivors from 4% in 2014 to 9% in 2015.  ’It’s vital that we understand the unique vulnerabilities to IPV and the unique barriers to accessing services for LGBTQ communities, particular LGBTQ people of color, LGBTQ people who are undocumented, transgender and gender nonconforming people, and LGBTQ people with disabilities’, said Julia Berberan from SafeSpace at Pride Center Vermont. ‘We need to make sure we’re reaching all survivors and supporting their specific needs in a survivor-centered way’.”
  • LGBTQ survivors often experience discrimination when trying to access IPV services. “NCAVP’s 2015 report found that about 27% of LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors attempted to access emergency shelters.  Of those survivors who attempted to access emergency shelter, 44% were denied, with 71% reporting being denied for reasons relating to gender identity, highlighting the negative consequences of sex-segregated emergency shelter options for LGBTQ survivors. ‘Shelter access issues most often impact transgender survivors—particularly transgender women—and cisgender men, who are often denied shelter at historically sex-segregated shelters that only serve cisgender women’, said Lynne Sprague from Survivors Organizing for Liberation in Colorado.  ‘Survivor-centered and identity-affirming housing options must be made available to all survivors’.”
  • LGBTQ IPV survivors experience violence and criminalization from the police. “Similar to previous NCAVP reports on IPV, LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors reported experiencing misarrest, verbal harassment, and other hostile behaviors when interacting with law enforcement.  Out of the total number of survivors who interacted with law enforcement, 25% said that the police were either indifferent or hostile.  In 2015, 31% of LGBTQ survivors who interacted with police said they experienced misarrest, meaning the survivor was arrested rather than the abusive partner, up from 17% in 2014.  ’Negative and violent experiences with law enforcement where survivors are revictimized are exacerbated with LGBTQ survivors of color, LGBTQ survivors with disabilities, undocumented survivors and other communities that hold multiple marginalized identities which are frequently subjected to violence by police’, said Aaron Eckhardt from BRAVO in Ohio.  ‘Police must be trained to recognize signs of IPV in LGBTQ relationships.  Moreover, we must also seek and create alternatives to the criminal legal system, especially for the safety of those whose identities are already criminalized in our society’.”
  • IPV can be deadly for LGBTQ people. NCAVP documented 13 IPV homicides in 2015.  “’We know that this number does not accurately represent the total number of IPV related homicides of LGBTQ people in the U.S.’, said Beverly Tilery from the New York City Anti-Violence Project.  ‘The lack of awareness and visibility in the media of LGBTQ victims of IPV contributes to this issue being ignored as a national problem.  Transgender victims are frequently misgendered and misnamed in media reports, and the intimate partner relationships of same gender couples are often reduced to friendships in media accounts of these homicides.  This needs to change’.” 

     There is a bright spot, however.   The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protections for LGBTQ survivors of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.  The new report highlights the fact that currently, there are available resources for LGBTQ survivors of IPV/A.  “In 2013, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created the first federal legislation to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  ‘VAWA-funded services like emergency shelter, crisis counseling, and attorneys are essential to helping survivors of IPV regain security’, said Justin Shaw from the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, in Missouri.”

     As I state in my national seminars and workshops, the most potent and deadliest weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is silence.  To make your Great Escape, you must snatch that weapon away from your abuser—and then shatter it into a million pieces!  Let the reverberating sound liberate you.

 

     To download the full NCAVP report, visit:  http://avp.org/about-avp/national-coalition-of-anti-violence-programs.

    If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, visit my special section complete with resources and more:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/  And, call: the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901).

Louder Than The Silence!

      WESURVIVEABUSE.COM, the well-respected and go-to-it domestic violence and abuse online resource, has honored Yours Truly by featuring my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  The overarching theme of “FRENZY!” is Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A),which is domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ Community.  IPV/A–demoralizing and potentially life-threatening behavior–significantly impacts the LGBTQ Community.

        Tonya GJ Prince is the founder of Wesurviveabuse.com.  An expert in both domestic and sexual violence issues, Ms. Prince has more than two decades of experience in these critical arenas. Her particular emphasis is crisis counseling and education.  Herself a survivor, the prolific Ms. Prince is an author, advocate, counselor, motivational speaker and mentor.

tonya-2

     To read the feature, visit:  www.wesurviveabuse.com/2016/10/the-forbidden-truth-about-intimate.html  Tonya, thanks for your invaluable, continuing support!

Broken Bones, Broken Dreams—An Update

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.  

Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse 8

 

Kyle’s Story

    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?

     KYLE:  Yes.

     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.

New Landmark Study Finds IPV/A More Common than Originally Believed

      A critical new study on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, or IPV/A (commonly referred to as domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community), shines an even brighter light on this heinous and potentially life-threatening behavior.

    As a journalist, IPV/A is my signature issue.  As well, I conduct national seminars and workshops on this despicable behavior–which can eat away at your very soul.  And, IPV/A is the overarching theme of my new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—RAGE!”

     This landmark study, conducted by Chicago’s Northwestern University (NU), concludes that IPV/A occurs at least as much—but possibly more—among same-sex couples as among opposite-sex couples.   According to the nydailynews.com, “The study team can’t say why domestic violence may be more common among same-sex couples, but they suggest it may result from the added stress of being a sexual minority.” 

     Richard Carroll, a psychologist at NU’s Feinberg School of Medicine and senior author of the study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, stated, “’There are vulnerabilities that come with being in a homosexual relationship.  It can be as basic as someone not ready or willing to be open to their family or community that they’re in a homosexual relationship.  The theory is that additional stressors can add to increased strain that leads to increased violence or abuse’.”

     Because IPV/A tends to be heavily stigmatized, it is woefully underreported.  “According to Carroll, among the challenges that sometimes prevent researchers from collecting reliable data on domestic violence among same-sex couples is the partners’ reluctance to bring up the topic out of fear of being outed or blamed.  ‘It’s not as easy for same-sex couples to be open about these things in the first place’, he said.”    

    To formulate the new study, the researchers probed the databases of medical research on the prevalence of intimate partner violence and abuse among same-sex couples.  Based on the findings of four studies that had data on 30,000 participants, the researchers found that between one and three quarters of LGBTQ individuals are victims of IPV/A.  That is at least equal to the quarter of heterosexual women who are victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes.

     Carroll continued, “’In addition to the added stress of being a sexual minority, another contributor to increased risk of domestic violence among same-sex couples could be that same-sex partners are unconsciously acting out an internalized homophobia they developed while being raised in a heterosexual society’.”

     “’The good news is that I think the gay community has begun to address this over the past 10 years, Carroll said.  There are certainly more resources for couples experiencing violence’.” 

     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).

 

Man standing over another man who is crying - domestic violence

It’s Purple Month!

     In my continuing recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I’m presenting my Huffington Post article on how this special observance came to be.  It’s a fascinating and moving unfolding and evolution of events.  Visit:  www.huffingtonpost.com/wyatt- obrian-evans/its-purple-month_ b_4054859.html

 

Domestic Violence hurts everyone

I Love You To Death, Part One

     October is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  In the LGBTQ community, domestic violence and abuse is generally referred to as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, or IPV/A.  

     As a journalist, IPV/A is my signature issue.  Therefore, in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I’m involved in various activities.  The first was an in-depth discussion of IPV/A on Dishing Tea, the international radio show hosted by Demetris Dennis Taylor.  

     And, the first of my three-part series on IPV/A entitled “I Love You to Death” has just debuted in The WOE Report, my new and exclusive column for Baltimore Gay Life. Visit:  baltimoregaylife.com/i-love- you-to-death-part-one/ 

    Stay tuned to www.wyattevans.com for more news and features on this critical…and potentially life-threatening behavior, which is deeply stigmatized—and tends to be grossly underreported in the LGBTQ community.

Campus

IPV/A Has Taken a Seat on Campus

As a journalist, I’ve made domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community, generally referred to as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A), my signature issue.  As well, I’m conducting IPV/A seminars and workshops across the country.  And, intimate partner violence and abuse is the overarching theme of my new novel, Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—RAGE!

     I want to make you aware of a recent University of New Hampshire (UNH) study that states that more than 40 percent of LGBTQ college students experience intimate partner violence and abuse in their current relationships.

To read “IPV/A Has Taken a Seat On Campus” in its entirety, visit:  www.baltimoreoutloud.com/thinking-outloud/mood-swings/item/2548-ipv/a-has-taken-a-seat-on-campus

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

     President Barack Obama has just named April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  The President’s proclamation shines a light even more brightly on this demoralizing crime–which can have life and death consequences. 

     The White House press release, Presidential Proclamation—National Sexual Assault Sexual Assault Awareness MonthAwareness and Prevention Month, 2014, states the following:  “Every April, our Nation comes together to renew our stand against a crime that affronts our basic decency and humanity.  Sexual assault threatens every community in America, and we all have a role to play in protecting those we love most—our mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives, our daughters and sons.  During National Sexual Awareness and Prevention Month, we recommit to ending this outrage of sexual assault, giving survivors the support they need to heal, and building a culture that never tolerates sexual violence.”

The White House continues, “We have come a long way, but sexual violence remains an all-too-common tragedy…Sexual assault is more than just a crime against individuals.  When a young boy or girl withdraws because they are questioning their self-worth after an assault, that deprives us of their full potential.  When a parent struggles to hold a job in the wake of a traumatic attack, the whole family suffers.  And when a student drops out of school or a service member leaves the military because they were sexually assaulted, that is a loss for our entire Nation.”

And finally, “This month, let us recognize that we all have a stake in preventing sexual assault, and we all have the power to make a difference.  Together, let us stand for dignity and respect, strengthen the fabric of our communities, and build a safer, more just world.”

As a journalist and activist, my signature issue is domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community, generally known as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A).  More often than not, this destructive, demeaning and potentially life-threatening behavior is heavily stigmatized and “swept under the rug” within the LGBTQ community.  As a result, IPV/A is grossly underreported.

New research suggests that a greater percentage of LGBTQ individuals are living in fear of an abusive partner than previously thought.  And each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay men are battered, and about one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way.

According to psychologists and authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, “Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only:  to gain and maintain total control over you.  An abuser doesn’t ‘play fair.’  Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her ‘thumb.’  Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.”

I conduct IPV/A seminars and workshops across the country to inform and educate, in the hopes that victims can make their “Great Escape.”  I’ll continue to update you on where I’ll be next.

Remember:  Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse ain’t “boys being boys”—or whatever is said to minimize or “blow it off” this reprehensible, dangerous behavior.  

     It’s serious stuff.

    And totally unacceptable.

Each year, more than a half million