by Nancy Travers,LCSW
Domestic violence in gay and in lesbian relationships in the GBLT (Gay, Transgender, Lesbian, Transvestite) community is just as prevalent as in straight relationships, but the victims are less likely to report the violence because they feel they will be judged by their sexual orientation. Another challenge in the GBLT community is that those in positions of authority, such as the police, judges, and prosecutors, may not be as eager to help a gay person versus someone who is straight. All of this puts much pressure on the victim to seek help and to get the services he or she needs.
The first thing the victim needs to do is recognize the abuse and violence for what it is. He or she must trust that leaving their partner will better their life, but that there will be short-term pain. He or she must face their fears which could stem from a fear of additional injury, lack of money, lack of resources or social pressure to stay with that partner.
Victims should find a few friends for support or go to an organized support group because these support groups will be crucial when the abuser become angry when the victim leaves. Organized support groups can be found within churches, community groups and service providers such as legal, health and counseling centers. Hotlines such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline (Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-800-799-SAFEÂ Â Â Â Â Â ) can provide immediate support 24/7.
What is abuse?
Abuse is a pattern of controlling behavior used against another person. Abuse can include sexual violence, emotional abuse or intimidation, property/economic abuse and stalking.
Tips on Safety Planning for Domestic Violence
Tell OthersÂ . If you are being abused, you need to let your closest friends, neighbors and co-workers know about your situation. Confiding is doubly hard for gays and lesbians, so only confide in those who completely support you.
Beware of Personal TechnologyÂ . Be sure you use computers, email accounts and telephones your partner doesn’t have access to and you might be safer using the computers in the public library. Don’t change your computer patterns because your abuser might suspect something is off if you delete your cookie history or if you erase your files. Texting is not the best way to tell your friends about your abuse; instead, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Put Together Your Emergency BagÂ . Gather your extra car keys, checkbooks, medicine, and important papers and give all of these valuables to a trusted friend so you may find your cache when you do leave the relationship.
Know Your DangersÂ . If you want to leave your abusive relationship, know that the violence ma increase. Go a relationship counselor and go over your escape plan with them so they can plot out your best route and give you support on where to stay next.
Go the Legal RouteÂ . Even if you have been intimidated by police in the past, go seek criminal charges against this person. At the very least, you can file in a civil court and receive a restraining/protective order which can even evict the victim.
For the GBLT community reporting abuse is a challenge, but partnering with the straight domestic violence community will build resources, awareness and action. It will also give confidence to the victims because they’ll encounter people who have left their abusers and have survived to tell their story.
Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 2212 Dupont Dr., Suite I, Irvine, Ca. 92612.
For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 orÂ contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.