Abuse occurs in one of three relationships, queer or straight, in this country
At least 30,000 lesbians and 500,000 gay men are abused by their lovers each year
Domestic violence is an equal opportunity phenomenon. Size, weight, 'masculinity', 'femininity' or any other physical attribute or role is not a good indicator of whether a person will be a victim or a batterer. Victims/survivors of domestic violence, and those who abuse them, come from all walks of life, all races, all ethnic groups, all socioeconomic classes, all educational levels, all occupations, and all political stripes. Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used to exercise power and control over a partner. Behaviors include, but are not limited to, physical, verbal and emotional abuse, sexual violence, stalking, harassment and threatening.
Unlike heterosexual women, lesbians, gay men, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) people who have been abused have few services available to them. In addition to this problem, being LGBTQQ in a homophobic society can compound the isolation that accompanies domestic violence. Silence about domestic violence within the LGBTQQ community further isolates the victim, giving more power to the batterer. Most victims tend to minimize the violence that happens to them because of guilt, shame, and self-blame attached to victimization, and because others do not believe them, responding instead with criticism and accusations of exaggeration. Leaving is often the hardest thing for a victim to accomplish, and is often harder than staying; it requires strength, resources, self-confidence, self-reliance, and good self-esteem, all of which have been eroded by life with an abuser.
Helping Yourself & Safety Planning
If you or someone you know is being abused, it is helpful to have a plan of action to help increase your safety. Here are some suggestions:
- Apply for a Relief from Abuse Order
A Relief From Abuse Order is a Family Court Order to prevent further abuse. It does not punish the abuser for past acts. However, a violation of the order is a crime that is enforced by the police and criminal justice system. The order becomes effective once it has been served to the abuser by the police.
The order can be obtained on weekdays (before 4 PM) from the Family Court, 32 Church Street in Burlington. A SafeSpace Advocate may be available to help file the complaint. Weekdays after 4PM and weekends you can apply for a Temporary Relief From Abuse Order at your local police station or by calling an after hours clerk for assistance at 1-800-540-9990.
- Develop a plan for future events. Explore the possibility of calling a neighbor or friend and using a 'code' word for having the police called.
- Consider leaving a bag at work or a friend's house in case it is not safe to go home or there is a need to leave home quickly. The bag should include a few changes of clothes, important documents (i.e. birth certificate, driver's license, checkbook, etc.), cash, medication taken regularly, and important numbers (friends, family, doctors, etc.).
- Explore different ways to leave the home safely. Identify which doors, windows, or stairwell would be best.
- Open a bank account and/or credit card in your own name to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways you can increase your independence.
- Have positive thoughts about yourself and be clear about your needs. Read books, articles and poems to help you feel stronger.
- Attend the SafeSpace support group for at least a few weeks to gain support from others and to learn more about your options.