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 Five of an ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of abuse.
This dysfunctional, destructive—and potentially deadly—syndrome is known as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A), which is domestic violence and abuse (DVA) within the LGBTQ community.
According to The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), IPV/A 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.” Every year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay/SGL men are battered. About one in four LGBTIQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way.
In other words, 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 out of you.
There are multiple signs of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse. The most telling is fear of your partner, that you feel you have to “walk on eggshells” around him/her. Other prominent signs: explaining/excusing frequent injuries as “accidents;” agreeing to everything your partner says/does; being forced into sexual activity.
A couple of years ago, I interviewed Kyle for Wyattevans.com. Kyle’s story didn’t end then; there’s an update.
But before jumping into that, let’s revisit his story.
The Black and Blue of it All.
Kyle, a Caucasian in his ‘30s, 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 few years older, and African-American, horrifically abused him for nearly two years.
WYATT: Kyle, thanks for agreeing to tell your important story. When and how did you meet Derrick?
KYLE: (His eyes light up.) It 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.
WYATT: 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.
WYATT: 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.
WYATT: And that evening?
KYLE: Immediately, we ended up in bed. And the sex was absolutely mind-blowing! We became a couple right after that.
WYATT: 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.
WYATT: 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, he becomes solemn.) The verbal—racial crap, etc.—started soon after.
WYATT: And the physical?
(He 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…”
WYATT: 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.
He Just Couldn’t Leave “Well Enough” Alone.
Eventually, Derrick was released…and hunted Kyle down. The aftermath?
WYATT: Kyle, thanks for sitting down with me again. I understand there’s more to your story.
KYLE: Sure. (After inhaling deeply, he swallows.) However, I’m gonna be brief because this shit is still weighing heavily on me. I’m workin’ real hard to put it behind me. Dredging it up is painful.
WYATT: Understood. (Pause.) Please, just take your time.
KYLE: (He tries to hold back tears.) You see, I didn’t get word that the mufucka had been released. I was pissed! (He’s choking up.) That blindsided the hell outta me. And somehow, he tracked me down.
WYATT: Yeah. It’s the classic case of SVA, Separation Violence and Abuse; you know, violence that can occur after leaving your abuser.)
(Instantaneously, a pall of sadness, grief, and anger gripped Kyle, hanging over him like a shroud. What happened that night leapt from his mouth in a stream of consciousness:)
KYLE: Okay, okay….it was an exceptionally muggy night, and the humidity was a pain… I live on this relatively quiet street and had just gotten home from grocery shopping. Right after I got outta the car, I was jumped from behind! A sick feeling in my gut told me that it was him, that bastard Derrick. He got me in some kind of chokehold and it was so tight that I could barely breathe…and then, I felt a gun pressing hard into my side…and I just froze! Gawd, now I began to panic…and then, he took that gun and hit me upside the head with it. That fuckin’ hurt! ”Oh, no!” I thought. “I can’t black out now…I have to keep it together if I’m gonna get out of this shit in one piece.” Finally, he spoke: “I’m back, bitch, and I ain’t finished wit you yet! I gotta score to settle. Let’s take a little drive in my ride…” He was enraged, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was in deep shit. Fortunately, the adrenalin kicked in… and that self-defense course I took months ago taught me some moves and I managed to get him off of me…the gun flew outta his hand. That shocked the shit outta him, throwing him off his game. We were both on the pavement…the gun landed in the bushes…I jumped up on my feet…Derrick was right behind me…I was yelling and hollering at the top of my lungs…then, he got ahold of me again…it seemed I’d lost all understanding and track of time. But then like out of nowhere, my neighbors suddenly popped up! They surrounded the asshole, wrestled him down, and held him for the police, who took him away.
KYLE: Thank God that the judge really took a hard line. Since he was a repeat domestic violence offender, the assault got categorized as corporal injury to a spouse that results in a traumatic condition, i.e. an injury. She (the judge) sentenced the bastard to eight years in state prison. She said she had to make him an example.
WYATT: So, Kyle, how do you feel? Do you feel vindicated in any way?
KYLE: (He hesitates.) I’m still numb, you know? (Pause.) He’s gonna get out eventually. (He’s really working hard to hold back the tears.)
KYLE: (Now, he’s stuttering. Big time.) And uhm…will…will he come after me again? I mean, I really dunno how I feel.
WYATT: Kyle, thanks for sharing. Your story is continuing to shine a bright light on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse. You’re helping to kick it out of the shadows.
KYLE: (He could only nod “yes.” He was drained.)
Know that you CAN make your “Great Escape” from IPV/A. However, it involves careful planning—if at all possible. Utilize any and all resources at your disposal.
And so importantly: you must not and cannot keep silent! You have to tell. Someone. Anyone who will listen. Keep in mind that silence is the most potent, effective and deadliest weapon in the abuser’s arsenal.
And always remember: anyone—and I do mean ANYONE—regardless of size, strength, age, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and/or income, can become a victim of IPV/A.
How do I know this?
Because I’m a Survivor.
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!