Domestic Violence Same-Sex Couples
Domestic Violence • Domestic Violence is seen as a problem that only occurs in heterosexual relationships. • The man maintains “control over his woman”
Why are Gay and Lesbians victims overlooked? • Men have been socialized to defend themselves. Men fight back. • Women have been brought up to be docile and never abuse another woman or a man. • Homonegativity • Sodomy Laws • Same Sex Domestic Violence Statutes do not exist.
Defining the problem • The definition of Domestic Violence should be expanded to include a larger spectrum of circumstances, relationships and people. • In heterosexual relationships, woman abuse male partners at a rate of about 10%. • In one study, 44% of Gay men and 58% of lesbian woman experienced abuse in past or present relationships.
In one study, Lesbian victims of SSDV received help: • Sought help from friends, counselors and relatives. • Religious shelters, hotlines and Domestic Violence shelters ranked the lowest for providing help (rank the best for heterosexual women).
Lesbian Domestic Violence • “The phenomenon of same-sex domestic violence illustrates that routine, intentional intimidation through abusive acts and words is not a gender issue, but a power issue.” (coleman, 1996) • Preliminary studies show that 22% to 46% of all lesbians have been in a physically violent same-sex relationship.
Lesbian Battering • Sexual abuse- non consensual sexual act, minimizing a partner’s feelings about sex, or making humiliating remarks about partner’s body. • Emotional abuse- threats to harm pets or children of the partner, threats to kill oneself, manipulative lies. • Psychological abuse- threats of blackmailing
Many lesbians stay with violent partners because if they leave it will cost them their family, their job, everything they have worked for their entire lives, should the batterer reveal their homosexuality where it is not known.
Woman who use violence in relationships • Mutual combatant- Woman who fight back and may at times initiate the violence • Self defending- Woman may use physical aggression to prevent further injury
Lesbian of color in the domestic violence movement • The batterer may use the prevalence of racism in society to discourage the victim from seeking help. The batter may also use the community of color to accomplish this goal by threatening to out the victim in that community, or she may use cultural norms to further oppress the victim. • The batterer may also keep her partner dependent on her and doubtful of her ability to think and act independently
What makes same-sex couples different in domestic violence? • Isolation: Gay male victims tend to keep silent about the abuse by their partners often in an attempt to prevent further stigmatism by mainstream society. • Blaming the victim for the abuse: All batterers try to destroy the sense of of self and self-worth of their partners. For example, a batterer may tell his partner he doesn’t deserve any better because “you’re nothing but a fucking faggot.” Being battered as a gay person can lead to long-lasting questions of identity and pride. • Community/cultural norms: The notion that one guy would hit another is a not unusual, men are supposed to be able to defend themselves. • Emotional dependence: Victims frequently have cited the case where an abuser creates emotional dependence by saying that he will not find love again, that he will most assuredly spend the rest of his life alone, or that he is the best thing that has ever happened to him.
Domestic violence and HIV • Domestic violence can occur in relationships in which HIV/AIDS is an issue Factors of violence • Physical abuse and neglect • Isolation or restricting freedom • Psychological and emotional abuse • Threats and intimidation • Economic abuse • Sexual abuse • Employment • Police and criminal justice system • Community
Legal procedures towards same-sex domestic violence • Batterers often keep their victims trapped in violent relationships by convincing them that no one will take their claims seriously. • Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina intentionally and specifically exclude battered gay men and lesbians from protection by defining domestic violence only as violence between members of the opposite sex. • Maryland, Michigan and Mississippi’s laws outlaws consensual sodomy (defined to include oral sex). • Even though the state’s sodomy laws are rarely enforced, their very existence sends a clear message to the battered gay man or lesbian: Within this court, you are the criminal. • For example, the case of Ward v. Ward in Florida, a judge awarded custody to an 11 year old girl’s father, a convicted murderer, rather than the girl’s mother who was a lesbian. The belief is that the girl should grow up to in a nonlesbian household. • Another example is from an article in the December 16, 1988 edition of Los Angeles Times reported that in Dallas, Texas, a judge sentenced the killer of two gay men to 30 years in prison and then told the local paper that he had been lenient in sentencing because the victims were homosexuals. • Victims who do seek formal assistance through the criminal justice system, so- cial service agencies, and law enforcement are often rebuffed due to professionals’ attitudes of disbelief that domestic violence can occur between two men
References • Cruz, J. “Why Doesn't He Just Leave?": Gay Male Domestic Violence and the Reasons Victims Stay." The Journal of Men's Studies 11.3 (2003): 309-23. Print. • Lundy, Sandra E., and Beth Leventhal. Same-sex Domestic Violence: Strategies for Change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1999. Print. • McClennen, Joan, Anne Summers, and Charles Vaughan. "Gay Men's Domestic Violence: Dynamics, Help-seeking Behaviors, and Correlates." Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services: Issues in Practice, Policy & Research, 14.1 (2002): 23-49. • Renzetti, Claire M., and Charles Harvey. Miley. Violence in Gay and Lesbian Domestic Partnerships. New York: Harrington Park, 1996. Print.