I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on a certain demoralizing, insidious and horrific cycle of behavior that continues to be a growing concern within the LGBTQ Community. This is Part One of an ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of abuse.
So…just what is Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)?
Well, it ain’t some exotic sounding acronym. It’s one helluva serious, potentially life-threatening public health concern 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).
Because it’s continually “swept under the rug,” IPV/A tends to be dramatically underreported. Fortunately, however, this abhorrent, abusive cycle of behavior is preventable.
This type of insidious 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; and as I just stated, incidences of IPV/A often are underreported–particularly amongst same-sex couples.
Telling and chilling evidence underscores the heavy toll of this behavior, and its negative health conditions and impacts:
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. For 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.
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%.
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 the 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 the following gives one pause: 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.
A Critical—No, Urgent–Societal Issue
Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) is a real social health concern. However, often 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/Aprograms. 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 healthcar+e 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.
“Broken Bones, Broken Dreams”
The following is a sit-down I had with an abuse survivor some time ago. His experience merits retelling because it’s a classic case of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.
A thirty-something Caucasian, he agreed to share this story only on the condition that I refer to him by his middle name, Kyle. He said that “Derrick,” his ex-partner, a thirty-year-old African-American, horrifically abused him for nearly two years.
Here’s Kyle’s story.
Evans: Kyle, thanks for agreeing to tell your important story. When and how did you meet Derrick?
Kyle: (His eyes light up.) It was at a Sprint store in Laurel (Maryland). Our eyes locked, and the chemistry was instantaneous!
Kyle: He initiated a conversation, and we walked outta 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 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: 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 fuck 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: Actually, I just wanted to go to sleep…and not wake up.
Kyle stated that the verbal and physical abuse worsened and escalated. Fortunately, another gay couple helped him make his “Great Escape.”
I asked Kyle why he stayed as long as he did. “Out of fear, shame, such little self-worth. Not to mention the stigma.” Kyle’s moved out of the area and is in counseling.
And Derrick? He’s doing jail time.
Until We Return…
I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on IPV/A, a 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 includes resources to assist victims. Visit: http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/
The time is NOW to break the cycle!