Gay domestic violence is probably the most underrated of all social maladies. It is commonly assumed that a domestic violence scenario would have to necessarily involve an abuser who is male and a victim who is a young female, child, or elder citizen. This consistently excludes the zone of homosexual relationships for the obvious reason that the interaction here is man to man and woman to woman, where Mars and Venus do not interact.
So does the social malady of domestic violence depend on a heterosexual equation as is widely assumed? No. The surprising fact is that the percentage of domestic violence in homosexual relationships is higher than in heterosexual partnerships.
A gay alliance has its own dynamics which contributes to more stress than that experienced in a heterosexual union. Coming out of the closet takes tremendous courage, especially for a young person who has still not found his niche, and is dependent upon family support. Taking this enormous step often results in the loss of family, friends, and society. The gay person is seen as ‘different’ in more ways than one.
Homophobia takes various shapes; however, the end result is a kind of excommunication where the only form of support available is from the gay community itself. When gay couples decide to live together, again there is a public statement made that does not find approval with most of society.
When gay men enter an alliance, it would be safe to expect a fun Boy’s Club situation where the party never ends. But statistics inform us that the violence in this relationship far exceeds any other in ferocity and frequency. Most cases of domestic violence against men are reported from gay relationships. It spreads across the whole violent spectrum of battering, stabbing, shooting, and assaulting sexually as well as emotionally.
The need to seize power and control of the other does not differentiate between the sexes. The patterns are similar to that found in heterosexual partnerships. The victim continues to live with the abuser; inexplicably enduring years of abuse until finally deciding to walk out, or is killed by the violence. The victim is also reluctant to use available agencies of help to charge the abuser and charge him with a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction. Ironically, here the victim is male, too. It has been noted that one of the highest causes of death in gay communities after AIDS and substance abuse, is domestic violence.
Now given the male preoccupation with power and control whether in heterosexual or gay relationships, it would seem that the ideal alliance would be the one between women, who are supposed to be the docile, peace loving, and submissive second sex. It is surprising, but true, that lesbian relationships have more than their share of violence than is attributed to them. Whether it is the stress of living in a homophobic society, or the daily pressures of living in a relationship, lesbian relationships are replete with verbal, emotional, and even physical violence.
While most domestic violence issues remain shut from the public eye till they have fermented beyond control, lesbian domestic violence rarely if ever finds the light of day. The main reason here is that the victim fears that she will not be taken seriously by a homophobic society. She truly feels isolated from the typical social machinery which other victims have recourse to use, and may not want to avail of the help afforded by heterosexual agencies. Voluntary agencies that exclusively shelter lesbian victims of domestic violence are non-existent.
This problem is faced by both gay and lesbian victims of domestic violence. They fear ridicule at the hands of the police, the judicial systems, and voluntary agencies which are the main outlets of help for other victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence law is based on a heterosexual perspective where the identities of the abuser and the abused are beyond doubt. In a gay domestic violence issue, it is very hard to see a man as a victim in a gay relationship, or a woman as a batterer in a lesbian relationship.
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