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  • J.L. Whitehead

Domestic violence in gay relationships...my story


Twenty-nine years ago, I wound up in the emergency room of a local hospital with a busted lip and severe lacerations on the vermilion portions of the mouth. I couldn’t believe that I was here. Even more so, I couldn’t believe how I got here. This would be one of the last times that we would be together as a couple.


I had no idea that my partner was as manipulative as he was. I knew that he was guilty of infidelity. I knew that he had narcissistic tendencies, however, I had no idea how bad they were. I remember going to a friend’s home in Upper Darby. Fresh snow had fallen to the ground and I remember wearing a brand-new trench coat. The party had a mixture of straight and gay people and one of the women was a friend of the host of the event. She had on booties to protect her feet from getting wet, and I offered to take them off for her. My boyfriend had struck up a conversation with the young lady and he said something to the effect that “He (meaning me) is lucky to have me.” She responded by saying, “I think that you two are lucky to have each other.”


We left the party shortly thereafter and I knew that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. The problem was the young lady. He had wanted her to respond to him by agreeing that I was lucky to have him. She didn’t do that. And for my boyfriend, he needed to be the sexiest person in the room. Moreover, he needed her to acknowledge that he was indeed the most beautiful man in the room…and she didn’t. His anger grew when she didn’t make that acknowledgement. And as we made our way to El train station, his anger culminated with him taking a swing at me and tearing my brand-new trench coat. In that moment, he never told me what was wrong. More importantly, he never told me what I did.


There was no apology…only dead silence as we walked through the slush of the snow to the train station. It was almost as if he didn’t know or want to acknowledge what he had done. He had no remorse and I know that no apology would be forthcoming.


This brings me to the emergency room at the hospital. That night, he wanted to fight. He needed a reason to hit me. And the moment when he did, I realized that what was whispered about him within the black gay community was true. He was an abuser. When he loved you, he loved you…until he didn’t. And when he didn’t, your relationship with him became tumultuous. Suddenly, everything that was wrong in the relationship was your fault. He would accuse you of doing the very thing that he was doing.



I knew that he had multiple affairs because he never felt the need to hide them. In his mind, he wasn’t doing anything wrong. I know now that he was narcissistic. Everything was about him. In retrospect, had he loved me? At one time, I believe he did. But not now.





What was worse about the abuse in this relationship is not the abuse itself. What was worse is the impact that it had on my family. In their eyes, I was letting a man control me. The abuse was evident, and they couldn’t understand how I could love someone like that. I couldn’t understand it because I really loved him. But I had systematically allowed him to alienate friends and family. I had allowed myself to be manipulated and this man had become my whole world.


This is part of what happens to abuse victims. I never thought that I would identify as being a victim of domestic abuse. But hindsight being what it is, I know that I was young and impressionable. I had heard about the abuse but didn’t believe it. But simply because I didn’t believe it doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist.


Domestic abuse is more common than we care to realize. In my particular instance it happened with warning, but I didn’t want to listen to it. I knew that he was dishonest, but I also thought that he had redeemable qualities that would make me overlook his shortcomings…that was until he hit me.


And then it was over. He tried to rectify the situation without effort…almost as if by bringing me back into his life that would nullify the emotional damage that he had inflicted.



(1) 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 35% of heterosexual women.


26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, in comparison to 29% of heterosexual men.


In a study of male same sex relationships, only 26% of men called the police for assistance after experiencing near-lethal violence.


In 2012, fewer than 5% of LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence sought orders of protection.


Transgender victims are more likely to experience intimate partner violence in public, compared to those who do not identify as transgender.

Bisexual victims are more likely to experience sexual violence, compared to people who do not identify as bisexual.


LGBTQ Black/African American victims are more likely to experience physical intimate partner violence, compared to those who do not identify as Black/African American.


LGBTQ white victims are more likely to experience sexual violence, compared to those who do not identify as white. LGBTQ victims on public assistance are more likely to experience intimate partner violence compared to those who are not on public assistance.


The experience with my ex was the end of my being a victim. There would be no more tears or erratic behaviors. There would be no more wondering if he was sleeping with someone else. It wouldn’t matter. Domestic abuse within the LGBTQ is more common than we care to acknowledge. I am living proof that this is true. I was in love with an abuser who felt nothing at the time of his abusive behaviors. I know that there are millions of men like me. It doesn’t matter if you fought your abuser back or not. You are not alone. That is probably the most important thing that you need to know.


You do not have to wait until your partner strikes you to experience domestic abuse. Domestic abuse can come in the form of verbal abuse.


Verbal abuse can include your partner threatening to out you to your family or your job.


You do not have to remain in a volatile situation. There is help.


https://www.thehotline.org/


800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224


~J.L. Whitehead


References:


(1) https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/domestic-violence-and-the-lgbtq-community

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