Domestic Violence: A Homosexual Matter Too

Domestic Violence: A Homosexual Matter Too

Introduction
The aim of this paper is to trace the current issue of domestic violence in gay couples in the United States of America. To do so, this paper will be divided into three parts. The first part will introduce the matter and its definition. I will try to briefly define what same-sex domestic violence is. Afterward, in the second part, I will show how it is seen in the country nowadays (how this subject is perceived, and I will not only put up with gay people perceptions). I will talk about this sexual minority and how society sees domestic abuse in their case. I will also insert few statistics to put numbers on this issue. Then, in the third part, I will make a kind of survey about how to tackle and prevent this huge problem and who can provide some sort of help to the victims, etc. And eventually, I will relate my own point of view on this topic and how I see it myself drawing the conclusion. I will try to criticize my analysis in the best way I can and summarize what should be done by the government of the United States. But above all, I will say what is worth to be remembered after reading my report.

It is important to understand that this paper will not go into deep researches but will give a sort of overview of the matter. One of the purposes is to show that domestic abuse does not only touch women and children in heterosexual couples. Indeed, being battered is also possible for men. And it touches homosexual couples as well. Men can beat the men who love them and women as well. Another purpose is to make people, all over America, understand it so we can change things, together. And last but not least, it is to talk out loud about the subject and stop using silence as an answer. This way, victims will learn to ask for some help without being ashamed and will stop thinking that they are “not normal”.

Chapter 1: Domestic Violence in Homosexual Couples
Definition
The US Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner". The definition adds that domestic violence "can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender", and can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

What Is Same-Sex Domestic Abuse?
Domestic violence is a large problem in the United States as in all over the world. But domestic violence in gay couples is worse because we do not talk about it as easily as we do in heterosexual cases of abuse. Unfortunately when it comes to violence, abuse, etc. in families or in couples we all speak the same language: silence… And in LGBT cases (“LGBT” is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, this term is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "Gay Community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s ) this silence is bigger because society does not accept them; they are not normal people so they think they do not deserve some help. When of course they do! Victims should spread their situation/ “disease” all around them so the world would have to face it, because otherwise it breaks people, families and friendships…

We could consider it as a social disease because battering, beating, insulting other people… is a matter of power. Power which leads the world… And regardless of your age, color, religion or social background you can be an author or a victim of it. Power and control are always the main aims for the authors of domestic abuse. Here is the Power and Control Wheel to help you to get an accurate image of it . The dominant partner intentionally wants to gain power over his/ her partner and does anything to do so. There are lots of tactics: physical or emotional ones but also isolation, verbal abuse, intimidation, blaming, denying, minimizing, financial abuse, or using children or pets to control the dominated’s behavior. Domestic violence is clearly a cycle… The relationship begins in a wonderful way and gradually tensions appear to end in an act of violence (which can be verbal or physical). The victim is shocked and quickly the abuser launches the “honeymoon” phase: he is being remorseful and attentive. This way, the victim forgives him and thinks it was an isolated incident. But again, tensions gradually reappear until another violent act occurs.

Chapter 2: Is Same-Sex Domestic Violence Seen As a Crime?
As I said before, domestic abuse does not only belong to women or children in heterosexual families. It is vital to engrave it in population’s memory; of that depends the survival of homosexual hope. Actually, it is high time we took action against that type of body and mind violation! Everybody knows that domestic violence can always lead to domestic murder. So before to reach that kind of tragedies, people must be aware of the things to do. Like report the crime immediately to the police and not wait until it happens again. But we know that reporting this crime is always shameful and numerous victims will not do it or not that easily. In same-sex cases it becomes way harder to do it because society does not see it as possible…

Society’s Way of Seeing It
As Carrie Brown mentions it in her article, because the majority of reported instances of partner abuse involve a woman being assaulted by a man, the disproportionate exposures of these types of power imbalances have created expectations that can lead to lots of issues in regard to LGBT abuse. These problems are more striking when outsiders try to identify the victim. It is easier for people, for whom these gender roles have been internalized, to picture a woman being abused by her male partner, someone who is bigger and has more social power. However, same-sex partnerships consist of two people who are assumed to be basically physically and socially equal in terms of power. The danger in this situation is that the seriousness may be underestimated, and the abuse disregarded. This creates difficulties, especially for the partner being abused, since underestimating the abuse may encourage the abuse to be down played by removing responsibility from the abuser. This reaction is likely to disturb their ability to receive proper help and therefore discourage them from reporting the abuse. Investigating how gender roles complicate same-sex partner abuse is therefore crucial. Plus, since the strong and wrong societal view, which says that females are less aggressive than males, exists, there is a failure to acknowledge the partner abuse in lesbian relationships.

A Felony or a Misdemeanor
According to the College of Human Environmental Sciences, there are three degrees of domestic assaults. Each of them are condemned in different ways. To distinguish those three punishments we must define the three types of assaults .
- Definition and Punishment for a First-Degree Domestic Assault:
A person commits this crime of domestic assault if he/ she attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to a family, a household member or an adult who is or has been in a continuing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the actor. The punishment in the first degree is a Class B Felony (the penalty is imprisonment up to 60 years; however, for a repeat offender the term of imprisonment may increase up to 2 years with prior misdemeanor convictions, and up to 6 years with a prior felony conviction ), unless the offender inflicts serious physical injury on the victim, in which case it is a Class A Felony (the penalty is imprisonment for life; however, for a repeat offender, the term of imprisonment may increase up to 2 years if the person was previously convicted of one or more misdemeanors, and up to 6 years if the person was previously convicted for a felony ).
- Definition and Punishment for a Second-Degree Domestic Assault:
A person commits this crime of domestic assault if the act involves a family or household member of current or past intimate and he/ she attempts to cause or knowingly causes physical injury by any means, including use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or by choking or strangulation; or recklessly causes serious physical injury, or recklessly causes physical injury with a deadly weapon. The punishment in the second degree is a Class C Felony (the penalty is a fine of up to $100,000, or imprisonment of up to 40 years, or both; however, for a repeat offender, the term of imprisonment may increase up to 2 years with prior misdemeanor convictions, and up to 6 years with a prior felony conviction ).
- Definition and Punishment for a Third-Degree Domestic Assault:
A person commits the crime of domestic assault if the act involves a family or household member of current or past intimate and he/ she attempts to cause or recklessly causes physical injury; or with criminal negligence causes physical injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; or places the victim in apprehension of immediate physical injury by any means; or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death or serious physical injury to the victim; or knowingly causes physical contact knowing the other person will regard the contact as offensive; or knowingly attempts to cause or causes the isolation of such family or household member by unreasonably and substantially restricting or limiting such family or household member's access to other persons, telecommunication devices or transportation for the purpose of isolation. The punishment in the third degree is a Class A Misdemeanor (the penalty may include a fine up to $10,000, or imprisonment for up to 9 months, or both; however, for a repeat offender, the term of imprisonment may increase up to 2 years ).
Note that these punishments are different if it concerns a prior or a persistent offender.

Some Statistics
- Domestic abuse occurs in approximately 30 to 40% of LGBT relationships, which is the same percentage of violence that occurs in straight relationships .
- Results from the National Violence Against Women Survey indicate that men living with male intimate partners experience more intimate partner violence than do men who live with female intimate partners, while women living with female intimate partners experience less intimate partner violence than women living with male intimate partners. Indeed, about 23% of the men, who had lived in couple with a man, reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a male cohabitant, while 7.4% of men, who had married or lived with a woman as a couple, reported such violence by a wife or female cohabitant. Slightly more than 11% of the women, who had lived in couple with a woman, reported the same, but 21.7% of the women, who had married or lived with a man as a couple, reported such violence by a husband or male cohabitant. These findings suggest that lesbian couples experience less intimate partner violence (IPV) than do heterosexual couples; however, more research is needed to support or refute this conclusion .
- In 2010, a survey reported that 47% of male victims of physical violence against 53% of female victims. But we have to make a difference in intimate partner violence. Indeed, the same report revealed that women suffered more of serious physical violence (58.3%) that year than men (41.7%). And due to the fact that violence against men is not yet internalized in people’s mind (not even in men’s ones) only 0.68% of shelters clients were men against 99.32% of women.

Chapter 3: What to do? Where to Go?
Prevention
To prevent that kind of situation, it is first good know how to detect a battering personality. There are obvious behaviors to look for such as jealousy, controlling behavior (they act like that because they are “concerned” for the victims “safety”; they will be questioned closely about where they went…), quick involvement (victims will be pressured to commit), unrealistic expectations (abusers will expect their partner to meet all their needs; “if you love me, I am all you need and you are all I need”), isolation, blames other for problems or feelings (all their problem in life and their behavior with their victims are all their fault), hypersensitivity (they are easily insulted and may take the slightest setback as a personal attack), cruelty to animals or children, “playful” use of force in sex or rigid sex roles, verbal abuse, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mood, past battering (they will say that they hit their previous partner but “he/she made them do it”), threats of violence, breaking or striking objects, using force during an argument, etc.

Shelters
After having spent a whole life-time together with an abuser partner, when comes the moment to leave him/ her, where are victims supposed to go? Truth is that not all gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgenders have a comprehensive family. Not all of them have a support behind them to go through these awful stories… Some are too young to be independent and without being part of the youth you can become homeless too! So where do people in this situation go? Who can help them?

If they live in the United States of America and if they are LGBT victims they have to enquire about shelters around them. If they are lucky, in their misfortune, they will be located in a state which enjoy of a community shelter for LGBT people. Here, you can observe the lack of preoccupation of the United States for that kind of matter. Only seventeen of the fifty states offer a specialized shelter to this sexuality minority (California, Chicago, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin).

Conclusion
Through the drawing of this paper I noticed that domestic violence as it occurs in same-sex relationships lacks sufficient research and analysis. Furthermore, information about the subject was easily found in the case of gays but not that much in the other: the lesbians… It proves once again that homosexuality begins to be known and accepted for men but not yet for women. And if it is so, we understand why they can sometimes be ashamed to report sexual, physical or psychological abuse. To me, it reinforces the fact that we live in a man’s world. Things need to change in minds around us. If we do not listen to them who will? They are a minority group, so we, the majority group, must provide them some help, any help. That way, statistics will be improved and we will be able to help more people suffering all over the world. Living in a world without stereotypes would facilitate everyday-life in so many ways.

Let’s always remember that it is a myth to think that same-sex couples do not batter each other, or worse, that “they are just fighting” or that is “mutual abuse” if they do. The belief that only females can be victims and males predators is absolutely wrong and must be removed form people’s mind.
What I would like to see is empowering people! The more you educate yourself about same-sex domestic violence issues, the better able you will be to help yourself, your relative(s) or friends making informed choices.

Once the victims fall prey to their predator, he/ she has to immediately ask for help. Seeking for organizations and going to shelters are the first right steps to do forward. And, if victims are strong enough to do it they must not, under any pretext, permit their assaulters to come back in their lives to repeat it again.

Victims must keep in mind that the one who hurt them will want to see them again to apologize and take back their control on them, etc. So they should put their foot down and not let their abuser enter in contact with them ever again. Otherwise, the cycle will settle in again and again. This paper made me realize that the United States lack of information about the subject and have to make headway. Unfortunately, to be the leading world power does not mean to be the leading help providing to underprivileged. They should create more shelters for LGBT victims. And if it is impossible they should at least train their “normal shelters” staff to cater for them.

Yes, when the truth is ugly we do anything that is possible to keep it hidden, because we think about the damages once revealed. But no, we must not!

Bibliography
Articles
BROWN, C. 2008 “Gender-Role Implications on Same-Sex Intimate Partner Abuse” Springer Science & Business Media, LLC
25 March

DANDENEAU, C. & FONTAINE, J.H. 1997 “Sex Roles: A Journal of Research” (book review) Springer Science & Business Media, LLC
March (Violence in Gay and Lesbian Domestic Partnerships by RENZETTI, C.M. & MILEY, C.H.; 1996 Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc.) http://search.proquest.com/docview/225375609?accountid=9769 {ProQuest}

Books
COOK, P.W. 1997 Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence
Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers

ISLAND, D. & LETELLIER, P. 1991 Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc.

LEVENTHAL, B. & LUNDY, S. 1999 Same-Sex Domestic Violence: Strategies for Change Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. {Amazon}

RENZETTI, C.M. 1992 Violent Betrayal: Partner Abuse in Lesbian Relationships {Amazon} Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Organizations
ALI FORNEY CENTER 2004 Resources for LGBT Youth and Homelessness www.aliforneycenter.org

NATIONAL RESOURCE CENTER ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (NRCDV). 2007 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Communities and Domestic Violence - Statistics A project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence www.nrcdv.orgwww.vawnet.org

LOS ANGELES GAY & LESBIAN CENTER 2007 Domestic Violence (see the additional video of “Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence Training”) www.lagaycenter.org

THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 1870 What Is Domestic Violence? Office on Violence Against Women www.ovw.usdoj.gov/domviolence.htm

Websites
BLACK, M.C. & co. 2010 “Graphics of Statistics on Violence Against Men” (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey [NISVS]) MenWeb http://www.batteredmen.com (March 31, 2012)

CRUZ, J.M. & FIRESTONE, J.M. 1998 “Exploring Violence and Abuse in Gay Male Relationships” (Violence and Victims, Vol. 13, No. 2) Denton, TX: Springer Publishing Company http://search.proquest.com/docview/208555353?accountid=9769 {ProQuest} (March 31, 2012)

GUNDERLOY, M. 1989 “Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary” (Volume 1, Part 1 Gale Research Co., 1985, Factsheet five, Issues 32-36) Managing Editor http://artigos.tutorialonline.pro.br/portal/linguagem-en/LGBT (March 28, 2012)

HEALTH FEATURES ARTICLES 2009 “Domestic Violence Assault Crime” (Source: The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences) MissouriFamilies.org
http://missourifamilies.org/features/healtharticles/
health22.htm (Last Updated May 5, 2009)

HOFF, B.H. 1998 “The Faulty Duluth Model: Gender Polarization in Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programs” MenWeb http://www.batteredmen.com/gjdvdulu.htm (March 31, 2012)

JORY, B. January 2004 “The Intimate Justice Scale: an Instrument to Screen for Psychological Abuse and Physical Violence in Clinical Practice” Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. http://search.proquest.com/docview/220979861?accountid=9769 {ProQuest}

SORENSON, S.B. & THOMAS, K. A.2009 “Views of Intimate Partner Violence in Same- and Opposite-Sex Relationships” Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. May 2009 http://search.proquest.com/docview/219772989?accountid=9769 {ProQuest}

VAN WAGNER & WOOD, S.C. 2007 “Felony Classifications” Madison, WI
http://www.vanwagnerwood.com/CM/Custom/felony.asp (April 1st, 2012)

VAN WAGNER & WOOD, S.C. 2001 “Misdemeanor Charges” Madison, WI
http://www.vanwagnerwood.com/CM/Custom/misdemeanor.asp (April 1st, 2012)

WALDNER-HAUGRUD, L.; GRATCH, L.V. & MAGRUDER, B. 1997 “Victimization and Perpetration Rates of Violence in Gay and Lesbian Relationships: Gender Issues Explored” (Violence and Victims, Vol. 12, No.2) New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company
http://search.proquest.com/docview/208555005?accountid=9769 {ProQuest} (April 1st, 2012)

Websites (without the author’s name)
RAINBOW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 2012. “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Domestic Violence” http://www.rainbowdomesticviolence.itgo.com (April 10, 2012)

Table of Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1: Domestic Violence in Homosexual Couples
Definition
What Is Same-Sex Domestic Abuse?
Chapter 2: Is Same-Sex Domestic Violence Seen As a Crime?
Society’s Way of Seeing It
A Felony or a Misdemeanor
Some Statistics
Chapter 3: What to do? Where to Go?
Prevention
Shelters
Conclusion
Bibliography
Articles
Books
Organizations
Websites
Websites (without the author’s name)