Anyone can be a victim of a crime. And that crime can be one of violence. And that violence can occur within the confines of a relationship. And the abuser can be someone you just met, or have known for a long period of time.
As a society, but also a community, we don’t discuss the grave matter of Intimate Partner Violence inside of and related to gay male relationships. This silence is harming far too many by keeping them from contacting the police, accessing resources or even knowing how and when to leave an abusive relationship.
In the past, we have taken up this topic and even criticized alleged LGBTQ non-profit organizations that are failing gay males. But, whenever we can, we bring you articles based on facts from those who have lived through such harrowing experiences. Please read and share this article because you never know when you, or someone you know will need this vital information.
Once again, we bring you an Op Ed piece by our friend and survivor of IPV, Mr. Wyatt O’Brian Evens.
“Curtis pretty much controls my movements, my finances, how I act! He continually threatens and isolates me. Then there’s the emotional abuse…and the physical, with the bruises…usually where you can’t see them.
“Here’s the deal: I’m fuckin’ scared of Curtis! I feel so defeated and useless.”
Vincent is a victim of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A), which is domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community. Last year, during the pandemic, I interviewed Vincent for my news, features, and commentary website, Wyattevans.com. COVID–which has resulted in sheltering in place and loss of income/resources–has exacerbated this dysfunctional syndrome.
Vincent’s story resonated with me in such a visceral way that my soul cried.
Why? Because I, too, was a victim of IPV/A. Fortunately, I’m a survivor.
Before I share my story, let’s thoroughly examine this demoralizing and potentially life-threatening cycle of abuse.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs states that IPV/A is “a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the abuser or batterer) to exert and maintain control over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.”
Anyone–and I do mean anyone–can become a victim of IPV/A, regardless of age, sexual orientation, physicality, race/ethnicity, and/or income.
Research suggests that a greater percentage of LGBTQ individuals are living in fear of an abusive partner than previously believed. Each year, between 50,000 and 100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay/SGL (same gender loving) men are battered — and about one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way.
Stigma is largely responsible for keeping IPV/A swept under the rug; this leads to it being dramatically underreported. Stigma is like an albatross around your neck.
Without a doubt, there is a nexus, the intersection between IPV/A and HIV/AIDS. An abuser, for example, can threaten to reveal the victim’s HIV status and withhold life-sustaining meds. This kind of emotional stress can wreak havoc on one’s immune system.
According to psychologists and authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, “Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. Abusers use fear, threats, guilt, shame, and intimidation.
“The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.”
At 22, I was deeply conflicted over my sexual orientation. My self-esteem was under the basement.
During that time, I fell hard for Aaron! Soon after we became a couple, the abuse began.
There are three types of IPV/A: emotional, mental, and physical. Ninety percent of what I endured was the former two, which included threats, vicious putdowns, intimidation, and isolation. Aaron kept constant tabs on me, labored to control my movements, and further eroded my remaining self-esteem.
I felt like I had to walk on eggshells around him.
And Aaron used sex to keep me hooked.
During our years as a couple, the abuse escalated. However, a beat down was that last straw! I finally realized that I had to end this incessant dysfunction. Fortunately, my brother-in-law, who was a cop, instilled “the fear of God” in him.
Finally, I was able to make my Great Escape.
As a journalist, SME, advocate, motivational speaker—and survivor, I’ve made the fight against IPV/A my clarion call. I’m proud to be LGBTQ Community Chair of the National Trauma Education and Policy Board, which fosters education and awareness about trauma in all its forms.
“Making Your Great Escape” is a phrase I’ve coined for my national seminars and workshops. I emphasize to attendees that to extricate yourself from your abuser, you must believe that your struggle to escape is heroic, reawaken your dreams, and know that you deserve help. You must deal with all the fears and risks.
The most potent weapon in an abuser’s arsenal is silence. Therefore, you must tell anyone who will listen.
Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse is a serious, potentially life-threatening—but preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. It is my fervent hope that someday, Curtis will make his Great Escape.
Please remember: love ain’t supposed to hurt.
If you or someone you know is experiencing Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, or IPV/A, visit my online home, www.wyattevans.com, where I have a special section containing resources. And call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, (800) 799-7233), or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline, (800) 832-1901.
For over 25 years, Mr. Evans has been a journalist. His work has been featured in print and online media outlets including the Advocate, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Baltimore Gay Life, Bilerico, Washington Blade, and BaltimoreOUTloud. Wyatt is the founder, editor-in-chief, and writer of Wyattevans.com, a leading online news, features, commentary, and entertainment media outlet for the LGBTQ Community and its allies. Nearly 100 countries visit Wyattevans.com regularly.
Wyatt is the author of the groundbreaking “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” (ethnic, masculine romance) series of novels; Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, which is domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community, is its overarching theme. “FRENZY!” is the latest installment in the series.
Follow Wyatt on Twitter @MisterWOE