Tag Archives: Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse

Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse

The Hushed Whispers of IPV/A

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) is a serious, potentially life-threatening—but preventable–public health problem that impacts millions of Americans. Specifically, IPV/A describes the physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological harm perpetrated by a current or former partner or spouse who is LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning). 

     This type of violence also can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples, and does not require sexual intimacy. Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence and abuse are growing problems, but are often underreported–particularly amongst same-sex couples.  The data below underscores the heavy toll of this violence and the negative health conditions/impacts associated with these forms of violence throughout the United States.

      In the U.S., about 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men experience some form of intimate partner sexual violence, intimate partner physical violence, and/or intimate partner stalking during their lifetime. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime.   

      Equally as alarming, nearly 23 million women and 1.7 million men have been the victims of completed or attempted rape at some point in their lives.  An estimated 6.8 million men were made to penetrate another person in their lifetime.

     In this country, more than 27% of women and 11% of men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and have experienced an intimate partner violence- related impact.  The CDC reports that 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. And get this:  on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

Man with a black eye

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) accounts for 15% of all violent crime.  According to the Department of Justice, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped in their lifetime. Almost half of female (46.7%) and male (44.9%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance. Of these, 45.4% of female rape victims and 29% of male rape victims were raped by an intimate partner.

    And this is alarming:  a study of intimate partner homicides found that 20% of victims were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders. This study revealed that 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female. Moreover, further studies suggest that there is a relationship between intimate partner violence, and depression and suicidal behavior.

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) is a real social health concern; however, often times it is the topic that we avoid or simply overlook because it does not affect us directly.  Additionally, for Gay or same-gender-loving (SGL) individuals, there has been very little academic studies or statistical information collected. There is also very little information collected about Black SGL men in any of the scholarly works. A recent study highlights this by stating that the medical community has responded to the public health problem of IPV/A with a range of efforts, from screening reminders in the electronic medical records of female patients to hospital-based IPV/A programs. While such efforts are necessary and important, they are notable for whom they exclude. Indeed, male victims of IPV/A, including SGL male victims, have received little attention in the health care field.

     The IPV/A screening instruments across the country generally do not have specific questions that address men or same-gender-loving males. Unfortunately, this has resulted in void, under-reporting and silence–particularly with SGL men.  This also leads us to not really understanding the importance or the impact that IPV/A is playing in the Gay and bisexual male communities throughout the United States. 

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on this demoralizing, horrific, and potentially life-threatening cycle of behavior.  We must Rise Up…And Tell!  Someone.  Anyone Who Will Listen. We must make our “Great Escape.”  

     And, always remember:  the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE.  

     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).  

     I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that lists resources to assist victims.  Visit:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/ 

     The time is NOW to break the cycle!

Accelerate Those Positive Affirmations! 

         I’m  Special Consultant to ViiV Healthcare’s “Positive Affirmations–ACCELERATE!” Initiative, a bold community engagement effort targeted to Black Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex With men (MSM) who reside in and around Baltimore, Maryland.  This groundbreaking Initiative is designed to empower these individuals through health and wellness.

         The overarching goals of “Positive Affirmations–ACCELERATE!” are:  “(1) to connect Black men who identify as Gay, Bisexual, Same Gender Loving or practice MSM Behavior to both formal and personal networks of support; 2) to assist in breaking down stigma and isolation; and 3) to tackle challenges related to homophobia, racism, HIV, mental health and substance abuse. The program efforts will also expand Black Gay men’s knowledge and understanding of how to access care, advocate for high-quality HIV prevention, treatment and care as well as assist them in meeting their goals to obtain the best quality health care.”    

         So, “ACCELERATE!” your “Positive Affirmations!”  Join us for our second Saturday’s ManDate Baltimore “Get Together” Meeting which is scheduled on May 20th, from 4PM-7PMat the GLCCB (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center), located at 2530 North. Charles Street (3rd Floor), Baltimore, MD, 21218 (N. Charles & 25th Sts).  Do spread the word, and invite/bring individuals with you.  A delicious meal will served.    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Carlton Smith (carltonsmith@gmail.com) or Duane Taylor (duane@taylor-wilksgroup.com .) Or, call:  443-218-2478.  And, visit the ManDate Baltimore Meeting Event Page on Facebook.

         In particular, I’ll be lending my expertise involving Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) to the Initiative.    As a journalist, motivational speaker and advocate, IPV/A is my signature issue.  And, IPV/A is the overarching theme of my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  To learn what esteemed individuals have stated about “FRENZY!”,visit:  wyattevans.com/what-folks-are-sayin-about-frenzy/

        The Center for Black Equity Baltimore and the Taylor-Wilks Group are administering this crucial Initiative.

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).

The Sandy Rodgers Show

“FRENZY!” In the Nighttime!

     An Encore Performance!  On Tuesday, January 17 @ 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST, I’m back as Special Guest on Life Love Wellness: The Sandy Rodgers Show—a popular, inspirational and empowering nationally-syndicated radio program!  Sandy and I will have a conversation about my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  

     Since Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)–also known as domestic violence and abuse–is the overarching theme of “FRENZY!”,Sandy and I will continue the discussion about this critical and potentially life-threatening behavior. 

     Now, what’s new in the mix this time is a discussion of the syndrome called, “Separation Assault/Violence.”  This occurs when the abuser escalates the violence after the victim leaves.  This can be the most dangerous time in the cycle of abuse. Sandy and I define what it is–and exactly how it impacts victims.

     We also talk about my journey as an author, what moves me…and so much more!  And, I’ll entertain questions from callers. 

     Do join me on the evening of Tuesday, January 17 Be prepared for a slice of engaging, informative and lively radio!

     Life Love Wellness: The Sandy Rodgers Show!  Call in on 516-531-9819 or online at blogtalkradio.com/sandyrodgers to be a part of the conversation!

 

“The Comeback Kid”: How Your Abuser Wins You Back

     So finally, you’ve managed to make your “Great Escape” from your abuser.  (Great Escape is the term I’ve coined for my LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse workshops and seminars.)  And after he/she fully absorbs that you’ve indeed found or reclaimed your backbone and guts, the counteroffensive begins in earnest with “plastic” pleas that include, “I really didn’t mean it,” “I was just so stressed out,” and/or “I promise it will not happen again ‘cause I love you to death!”  (“Love you to death?”  Trust and believe:  that’s something you really don’t want.)      

       You see, he/she is trying to reel you back in, to slither right back into your life.  And if you let that happen—at the very least without him/her taking full responsibility for their actions and getting individual counseling–it can be disastrous to you emotionally, mentally, and physically.  And potentially life-threatening.

     Before I detail how the abuser stages a return to win you back, let’s understand exactly what Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, or IPV/A, is–and it’s cycle of abuse.  Simply put, this horrendous conduct is referred to as domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community.  According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, it is the “pattern of behavior used to establish power and control through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence, when one person believes that they are entitled to control another.”  The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs defines it as “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.”  

      Statistics show that this form of abuse 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.  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.”

     The Network/La Red, whom I’ve interviewed for the Huffington Post Queer Voices, weighs in.  Located in Boston, it is a survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in the LGBTQ community.  “Abuse is not about violence; it’s about control,” according to the organization.  “You can be just as controlling of someone if you are small—as if you’re large.  It’s about using violence or any other means of gaining and maintaining control.”

Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse 6

     Segal and Smith add, “The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult.  You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.”

     So, what is the complete cycle of IPV/A?  According to the psychologists, this behavior falls into a common pattern, which begins with abuse and ends with the set-up:

  • Abuse. Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior.  The abuse is a power play intended to “keep you in line, and show you who’s boss.”
  • Guilt. After abusing you, your partner feels guilt—but not over what he/she’s done.  The abuser is more concerned about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for the abusive behavior.
  • Excuses. Your abuser rationalizes what he/she has done, devising a string of excuses or blaming you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.
  • “Normal” Behavior. The abuser does everything to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship.  Your abuser may act as if nothing has occurred, or he/she may pour on the charm.  The abuser’s apologies and loving overtures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult for you to leave.  Your abuser may make you believe that you are the only person who can help, that things will be different, and that he/she truly loves you.  However, the dangers of staying are very real.
  • Fantasy and Planning. Your abuser starts to fantasize about abusing you again, spending a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he/she’ll make you pay.  Next, the abuser devises a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.   (Here’s Part A of an example:  he/she tells you to go to the store, but doesn’t tell you that you have a certain amount of time to return.  When you’re a few minutes late because you were held up in traffic, for example, your abuser assaults you.)
  • Set-Up. Your abuser sets you up and puts his/her plan into motion, creating a situation where he/she can justify abusing you.   (Part B of the preceding example:  when you’re a few minutes late, your partner feels totally justified in attacking you because, according to him/her,  “you’re having an affair with the store clerk or manager.”)      

     Now, onto how the abuser attempts to slither, worm his/her way back into your life after you’ve made your glorious Great Escape.  The LaSalle Parish, Louisiana sheriff’s office lists these classic “Take Me Back Tactics:”

  • The Honeymoon Syndrome. Also referred to as “Hearts and Flowers,” this is any bribe to get you to return—and the sooner the better.  “The abuser will turn on the charm and promise to change.  He/she will promise to get therapy, promise not to hurt you again, and tell you how wonderful you are, saying things like, ‘I know I don’t deserve you, but if you’ll take me back’…”
  • The Revival Syndrome. “’I have been going to church since you left.  I have accepted religion into my life’.”  But, has the violence ended?  Well, don’t be duped and taken in.  “Just because he/she says he goes to church does not mean that the abuse and violence can’t be right around the corner.  Many ‘God-fearing’ people abuse, rape, beat and murder their partners!”
  • The Sobriety Syndrome. It’s a fact that abusers have a higher incidence of substance dependence.  Even when they deny it, abusers are aware that they have a problem or aware that YOU believe they have a problem.  “When faced with losing their partners, they suddenly ‘see the light’ and swear they will never touch it again.  You want to hear it and believe it and you will support his effort.  You should!  Encourage him/her to see a doctor, join a support group and seek therapy.  Don’t fall for the promise unless and until you see him/her actively participating in sobriety with OUTSIDE HELP.  Counseling can also address problems and issues to help the abuser substitute healthier behaviors for destructive coping mechanisms.”
  • Counseling Syndrome. Abusers utilize this tactic to (1) get you to stay, and (2) maintain control and intimidation. “Abusers cannot just stop their behaviors without assistance to overcome issues and replace destructive behaviors with healthy ones.  Appropriate counseling cannot be done WITH the victim present.  The victim is not free to say what they think without fear of repercussion.  Batters must take full responsibility for their actions, must understand and admit that THEY have the problem and must be dedicated to make positive long-term changes.  Couples counseling can come later, when the abuser begins to show positive changes in behavior.” 

       If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call: the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901), or  The Network/La Red’s Hotline (1-617-742-4911).

     And always remember:  It ain’t (just) the way that he/she loves you.

The Myths of IPV/A

     As a journalist and public/motivational speaker, one of my signature issues is Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)–the term used for domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community.  Sadly and too often, this demoralizing, heinous and horrific behavior is “swept under the rug”–particularly when it involves gay/SGL (same-gender loving) men. 

     The misguided belief that “Oh, you know…boys will be boys!” continues to permeate, and disgustingly so.  Therefore, the crime of IPV/A tends to be grossly underreported.  

     And without a shadow of a doubt, it is a criminal offense.

     In this article, I’m focusing on the Ten Myths associated with Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.  But before I do that, allow me to present my “IPV/A Primer.” 

     So, exactly what is this potentially life-threatening pattern of behavior?    What’s it all about?  What are its ramifications?

     IPV/A is, according to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, the “pattern of behavior used to establish power and control through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence, when one person believes that they are entitled to control another.”  Meanwhile, 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 over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.”  

      Statistics show that this form of abuse 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.  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.”

     Segal and Smith add, “The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult.  You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.”

     Now, let’s explore those myths.  Courtesy of the Haven Women’s Center in Stanislaus County, California, you’ll see that they’re real humdingers and whoppers.  In no particular order, they are:

 

  • Domestic Violence is more common in straight relationships than it is in lesbian or gay relationships. But here’s the truth:  “Do not assume that gay men and lesbians are less violent than heterosexual men and women.  Best estimates of same-sex domestic violence according to research and statistics gathered from the lesbian and gay community is that domestic violence in gay and lesbian relationships is approximately 25-32 percent (basically the same percentage as in the heterosexual community).”
  • It isn’t really violence when a same-sex couple fights. It is just a “lover’s quarrel” between equals.  But here’s the truth:   “There is nothing equal or fair about domestic violence.  Being thrown against a wall or enduring endless criticism from an angry lover does not entail fairness.  Further, dismissing domestic violence as ‘just a lover’s quarrel’ trivializes the violence and gives tacit consent for it to continue.  Just because the two people are the same gender does not make it a fight between ‘equals.’  Many battered gays and lesbians fight back to defend themselves—it is a myth that same-sex battering is ‘mutual’.  There is almost always a primary aggressor.”
  • The batterer will always be butch, bigger, stronger. The victim will always be femme, smaller, weaker.  But here’s the truth:   “This is simply not true.  Size, weight, butch, femme, or any other physical attribute or role is not an indicator of whether or not a person will be a victim or a batterer.  A person who is 5’2”, prone to violence and very angry can do a lot of damage to someone who may be taller, heavier, stronger and non-violent.”
  • People who are abusive and under the influence of drugs or alcohol are not responsible for their actions. But here’s the truth:  “Violence is a choice, and there are better choices.  Every person is responsible for every action taken.  Drugs and alcohol are excuses for battering.  There is evidence to show that batterers who abuse drugs and alcohol are equally likely to batter while sober.  If a person who batters is on drugs or alcohol, that person has two serious and very separate problems.  Using drugs or alcohol does NOT relieve a person of responsibility for his/her own conduct.
  • The law does not and will not protect victims of lesbian and gay men’s domestic violence. But here’s the truth:  “It depends somewhat on where you live, but in the United States, heterosexuality is not a criterion for protection under the law.  LGBTQ victims can get restraining orders.  Domestic violence is against the law for LGBTQ people, too!”
  • Lesbian and gay domestic violence is sexual behavior—a version of S&M. The victims actually like it.  But here’s the truth:  “Domestic violence is not sexual behavior.  In S&M relationships, there is some contract or agreement about the limits or boundaries or the behavior, even when pain is involved.  Domestic violence entails no such contract. Domestic violence is abuse, manipulation and control that is unwanted by the victim.  Domestic violence cannot be dismissed as sexual behavior.  There is no similarity whatsoever.”
  • Domestic violence occurs primarily among gay men and lesbians who hang out at bars, are poor, or people of color.But here’s the truth:  “Domestic violence is a non-discriminatory phenomenon.  Batterers come from all walks of life, all racial/ethnic groups, all socioeconomic strata, and all educational levels.  The LGBTQ community includes members of every other minority and majority group (ethnic, religious, racial, socioeconomic, immigration status, etc.).  Domestic violence occurs proportionally across all groupings and categories of people.  No group is exempt.
  • Victims often provoke the violence done to them. They’re getting what they “deserve.”  But here’s the truth:  “That is absolutely untrue.  Violent behavior is solely the responsibility of the violent person.  Batters choose violence; victims do not ‘provoke’ it.  This myth is common among both batterers and victims of domestic violence, and is probably a strong force that keeps the victims in abusive relationships.
  • It is easier for lesbian or gay victims of domestic violence to leave abusive relationships than it is for heterosexual counterparts who are married. If it were really that bad, they would just leave.  But here’s the truth:  “Lesbian and gay couples are as intertwined and involved in each other’s lives as are heterosexual couples.  Due to the lack of societal support, many lesbians and gay men are more ‘protective’ of the relationship and less likely to leave despite the abuse. Leaving is often the hardest thing for a victim to accomplish—harder, for instance, than staying.  Batterers threaten their victims with more violence (including threats of murder) if they leave.  Threatening to leave may put the victim in more danger.  Leaving also requires strength, self-confidence, self-reliance, and a healthy self-esteem.  Those qualities have been eroded by the abuse.  Leaving a violent partner also means leaving one’s home, friends, children and community. A lesbian or gay man may be extremely isolated.”
  • Lesbian and gay domestic violence is the same as domestic violence between a man and a woman. But here’s the truth:  “The dynamics of same-gender relationships are not the same as in heterosexual relationships.  The stresses of being without full legal protections and the lack of societal support for their relationships are added stresses for the lesbian or gay relationship.  Therefore, lesbians and gay men will not respond to stress in their relationship the same way as heterosexual individuals do.  Lesbian relationships and gay men’s relationships will not look like nor respond to stress and abuse within the relationship the same way as heterosexual relationships.”

Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse 3    

     At times, when I conduct talks and seminars on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, I have to dispel some or all of these myths.  You see, in order for us to help put a stop to this demoralizing, heinous and horrific behavior, we have to change our way of thinking.  Because, make no mistake:  lives are at risk

     And always remember:   It ain’t (just) the way that he/she loves you.

 

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).

Old fashioned Microphone

MARK THE DATE:  9/19/15!

     On Saturday September 19, 2015, I kick off my National “He/She Really Didn’t Mean IT: Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) and RAGE!” Tour!  I’ll be conducting IPV/A Seminars/Workshops, and performing excerpts from my latest novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—RAGE!” 

    My first stop is Washington, D.C., my hometown!  To get the full 411, visit the EVENTS Section.

Domestic Violence

Does Lovin’ Me Include Battering Me?

      Kwame Harris.  William Ewell.  What do these two men have in common?

     Well, they are (were) Black.  And, both men got caught up in separate incidents of the “nasty bizness” of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A). 

     In his particular situation, Harris was the abuser.  

     In his particular situation, Ewell was the victim.  

     And unfortunately for Mr. Ewell, he died from it.

     You may recall the story of Mr. Harris.  On December 20, 2013, the former San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders lineman was sentenced to five days in jail and three years of probation for battering Dimitri Geier, his ex-boyfriend, in August 2012.

     At the time of the violence, Harris and Geier were romantically involved.  They’d previously lived together.  According to the San Jose Mercury News, “While dining at a Chinese restaurant, they began to argue and Harris then pinned Geier against a glass wall.  When they went outside, Harris hit Geier several times in the face and head, causing a compound facial fracture that required surgery and insertion of a metal plate.”  After a six-day trial, Harris was convicted of misdemeanor violence and assault charges but acquitted of felony domestic violence and assault charges.

     Now on to Mr. Ewell.  According to the Nydailynews.com, “William Ewell died after getting into a fistfight with his 20-year-old beau on a Bronx street when the two came to blows.  According to friends, ‘Ewell was a devout minister who preached loved and respect for others’.”

      You see, on Sunday, November 30, Ewell was arguing with his boyfriend at Bronx Park East and Mace Avenue, near the Bronx Zoo.  His younger partner punched him, knocking him to the ground. 

     Ewell died sometime later.

     “Friends said that the couple were recently engaged.  Police stated that charges against the younger man were pending the medical examiner’s investigation.”

     These are two horrific examples of the vicious cycle called Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, or IPVA.    The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs defines it as “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.”  

      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, and about one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way.           

     As a journalist, I’ve made this dehumanizing and potentially life-threatening behavior–which tends to be heavily stigmatized and notoriously underreported in the LGBTQ community–my signature issue.  I conduct IPV/A seminars and workshops around the country. 

    I’m so passionate about this issue because I know individuals who have been victims of IPV/A.  And in my twenties, I experienced this demeaning behavior first-hand .

    My experience was psychological—the tearing down of my self-esteem, verbal abuse, threats, isolation.  At the time, I didn’t have the tools and information to make my “Great Escape.” 

     Fortunately however, I eventually did.

      With my continuing coverage at Wyattevans.com, Huffington Post, Baltimore Gay Life, BaltimoreOUTLoud, and The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Show (on the progressive Papichuloradio.com), I’ve been shining a bright light on this critical issue.   Part of this coverage includes telling the personal stories of IPV/A victims.

     At my seminars and workshops, I’m frequently asked, “Can abusers really control their behavior?”  The answer:  if they want to, they can!  Research has borne this out.  

     Currently, it’s unclear whether or not there was a pattern of violence and abuse in the relationship of Ewell and his partner.   But what we do know, however, is this:  there must be ZERO TOLERANCE for even one incident of IPV/A. And the faulty thinking and lame excuse (that too many people have) that “boyz will be boyz” just doesn’t cut it. 

    Here’s the Bottom Line:  Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) ain’t the way that you love somebody.    

     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).

Domestic Violence

I Love You To Death, Part Two

     The second installment of my three-part series on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) has just been published in Baltimore Gay Life (BGL)!  Entitled “I Love You to Death,” it’s the topic of“The W.O.E. Report,my exclusive, monthly column for BGL. 

     “I Love You to Death, Part Two” lays out the Complete Cycle of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.  In a concise manner, I explain the cycle from “A to Z”:  from Set-Up to Follow Through.  In this way, you can envision just how this sick, demoralizing pattern of behavior can be so damaging to the victim—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. 

    Here’s a link to the online version of the magazine. My article is on page 18, so you have to go to page 18 http://issuu.com/baltimoregaylife/docs/gaylife_november2014#signin 

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).