The Lie of the Sisterhood: Domestic Violence is Higher in Lesbian Relationships
“Remember that what you believe will depend very much on what you are.” — Noah Porter
Like with many stories, it starts with a phone ring, and another, and another.
As I got drawn out of my slumber, I was ready to answer the phone and give the person on the other end a good “what for” due to waking me.
I grabbed my phone and said “Hello, what do you want,” in my meanest, gruffest, tough guy voice I could muster after being woken up from a dream of a summer’s day on Old Orchard Beach.
The reply I received was silence, then a familiar voice of my friend Jennifer answered, but it was not the happy, go lucky, voice that I am so used to hearing from her.
“Daniel, I am sorry I called you. I just don’t have anyone to turn to. I don’t know what to do.”
With those words, her semblance of dignity and control melted away.
“We had an argument, my money was stolen, my wallet was thrown into the fireplace. I looked into the mirror and my face is bruised and I think I bit my tongue”
With that, she gave off a weak, little laugh.
I asked her what happened.
“Karen beat me up pretty bad, but I probably deserved it.”
I told Jennifer that I would send her some money through Western Union and that she needs to get somewhere safe. Luckily, in spite of Christmas, I had saved $400 for my wife’s birthday, which was on the third of January.
I was hoping to give my fiancé, Tricia, a celebration like she never experienced before. I had prepared an itinerary that would have involved taking her down to Boston for a few days. In the face of this crisis, I decided that there would be other birthdays. At least, I bought her the horrific “Elvis Clock” she wanted.
I told Jennifer I would help her out, give me an hour. With that, I called Kings Inn motel and paid for a week for her. I called the Washington Domestic Violence Hotline, www.wadvhotline.org, and scheduled a time to have someone check up on her after she arrives her room. I called Western Union and sent her $200 with a password so she would have a little spending money to provide for her needs.
I called her back to let her know what arrangements I had made for her. What she said next brought a real tear to my eye,
“Daniel, I have been with men and they treated me horrifically. I thought if I was lesbian, then I would find someone who would be more compassionate, more understanding. Someone who has been through the same abuse that I have gone through. Instead, I end up being with someone who treats me worse than any man has.”
We continued to talk for a bit. She told me that instead of love and acceptance, she has been abused worse. She told me how her partner would not allow her to spend her own money without consultation. She told me how she was expected to pamper her partner. She even told me how her partner manipulated her to have a “Menage a Troi” with another girl she was attracted to.
“I keep telling her how I feel, but she degrades my feeling as not being of the sisterhood and I was being selfish and not caring for her needs.”
“At least men will just hit you and run away. Women will hit you and then comfort you, all the while explaining to me why I deserve it.”
It is an interesting thing, being a male and seeing this happen. Being a sexual abuse survivor, I was always told about how “Men” are the abusers, molesters, and rapists. I was told that a man’s inability to connect on an emotional level is what drives his need to manipulate, control, and abuse his significant relationships.
I was told that this is what I was going to grow up and become.
Instilled in me was a great fear that I would become like my abusers. The result in my life is that I became more sensitive, more caring, more logical, and more loving.
But just as I had a fear of becoming like the stereotypical man that I was taught in my therapy sessions growing up, I suspect that the fear of not being “masculine” or “strong” enough for woman in a Lesbian relationship can be just as frightening.
If you look at what society typifies as the “masculine” gender role, you find the expectations of strength, control, resistance, and limited abilities of compassion, empathy, and love.
If you apply this idea not on the physically male, but on the alpha role of the relationship, you can see why lesbian relationships have more mental, emotional, financial and physical abuse. Women taking on the alpha role have pressure of proving their validity on social, religious, and economic levels. Unfortunately, this entails dominate personality to live up to what they perceive as the expectations of “manhood.”
It appears that many of the Alpha’s in a lesbian choose to be like the men that many of them claim to despise. I hear the complaints of many woman about how men treat them. I hear about how only a woman can understand a woman, and women are “safer” around other
What is worse, these women use their sexual identity to try to manipulate women who are leaving abusive relationships
In order to prove their power, women who have become lesbian after horrific abuses done at the hands of men may become like those same men. Shunning away the emotional capacity, destroying the feelings of empathy for their partner, and becoming the controlling, dark abuser that requires total servitude, total allegiance, total ownership of their partners.
The National Violence Against Women survey found that 21.5 percent of men and 35.4 percent of women living with a same-sex partner experienced intimate-partner physical violence in their lifetimes, compared with 7.1 percent and 20.4 percent for men and women, respectively, with a history of only opposite-sex cohabitation. Transgender respondents had an incidence of 34.6 percent over a lifetime according to a Massachusetts survey.
The CDC’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, released again in 2013 with new analysis, reports in its first-ever study focusing on victimization by sexual orientation that the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner was 43.8 percent for lesbians, 61.1 percent for bisexual women, and 35 percent for heterosexual women, while it was 26 percent for gay men, 37.3 percent for bisexual men, and 29 percent for heterosexual men (this study did not include gender identity or expression). You can find the study here:Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Patients and Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence
The biggest problem with these numbers is the fact that as a group, the LGBT community still suffers from discrimination, prejudice, and hate. After careful research, I found the percentage in these statistics may be higher because many are motivated to skew their answers for the “sake of the cause.”
What is worse is I have heard excuses from national religious organizations, from local churches, and even from “Americans” that claim the issue is caused by their sexual identity and not by the “mental health” of the people involved.
I just want to say that it is very hard to grow past my past. I grew up living in a “dog room” being called “Prairie @!$%#er” and being beat by the people who were supposed to love me. I ran the danger of taking my learned expectations of what love was and applying them in the here and now. It was very hard for me to finally realize that I am not like those people who destroyed my sense of confidence, of value, and of love.
I am currently in a relationship where I am not kept on the edge of crisis. I am in a relationship where my love is not just expected, but sincerely appreciated. Most of all, I am in a relationship where the need of me to agree is not a prerequisite for our friendship, support, and love.
For anyone, from those who are in the LGBT community to those who are in a Heterosexual relationship, do not need to live up to the expectation of the “gender role” that has been established in our experience.
In fact, when I find my emotions are spun out of control, when my spirit feels drained, when I have absolutely no idea how to handle a situation, I ask myself this one simple question:
“What Would Jesus Do?”
And I do it, with much success.
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”- Anais Nin