Supernova — a global platform to support queer people in abusive relationships
“Seventeen-year-old Julia has been with her girlfriend, Audrey, for over a year. Recently, they’ve hit a rough patch in their relationship — Audrey gets jealous whenever Julia goes out with her friends and constantly accuses her of cheating. Whenever they get into an argument, Audrey threatens to tell Julia’s family that she’s a lesbian, which could mean that Julia would be disowned and left homeless.
When Julia confides in a friend about her relationship problems, her friend explains that she’s not experiencing abuse because Audrey is a woman and there’s never been any physical violence.” — The Untold Story of Domestic Violence by Ally Ang
This is perhaps not the most familiar narrative when it comes to domestic abuse. Too often we depict the abuser as a male who physically assaults his female partner. It does not always occur to us that abuse can take many different forms, in any kind of relationship, by anyone.
Domestic abuse within the queer community is just as prevalent, if not more so, as within heterosexual and cisgendered relationships. A 2010 American study, The National Intimate Partner Violence Survey, found that 45% of gay men experienced psychological expressive aggression by an intimate partner, in comparison to 32% of heterosexual men. They also found that of bisexual women 22% experienced rape and 40% experienced other sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime in comparison to 9% and 15% of heterosexual women respectively.
Unfortunately there is a serious lack of research on domestic abuse experienced by transgender people. However, the limited studies (for example, a study conducted by the Williams Institute) that exist suggest that transgender people too, experience just as high levels of domestic abuse as cisgendered people.
With the majority of content focusing on heterosexual and cisgendered relationships, certain aspects of abuse unique to queer people are missed. For instance, the threat of outing can be used as a way for an abuser to control their partner. Controlling access to medication or treatment which are part of one’s gender identity or transition is abuse. External factors, such as societal homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, can also impact those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and are experiencing abuse.
Identifying abuse is not easy, especially in intimate relationships. And it is even more difficult when you do not have information available to you that echoes your experience or tells you what classifies as abuse.
This is why today we launch The Supernova Project, a platform providing information and resources specifically for the queer communities about domestic abuse and where they can find more help. We hope that, by hosting content tailored for different groups within the queer community, those in abusive relationships will be able to identify their partner’s behaviour for what it is. We hope that readers will realise that it is not their fault and that they are not alone in their experiences. We hope that they will feel empowered.
We are not alone in this fight. There are a number of fantastic organisations which give emotional and practical support to queer people in abusive relationships around the world. We are not in a position to offer personalised support in a particular region, but instead want our platform to be used globally by those who need it, and to be able to signpost readers to places where they can find additional support and information.
Supernovas occur when a large star is coming to the end of its life. Just as it’s nearing its end, the star explodes and gives birth to what looks like a new and brighter star where they dispel all the material of the old star out into space. This event can also help with the formation of new stars in the future. It is an incredibly important, wonderful and beautiful cosmic event. The word ‘nova’ means new, and this is a creation of something new and beautiful from something which was coming to the end of its life.
This is what the Supernova Project is about. It’s about finding energy again, it’s about being able to identify domestic abuse and be empowered to come out the other end shining brighter than ever.
(It’s also not a complete coincidence that they are full of rainbow colours…)