We at GMJ dedicated the entire month of May to awareness regarding Gay Male Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). This is a topic that is considered taboo in our community as it strikes at the very core of who we are as homosexuals and our ability to create and sustain healthy relationships. But lately this issues is being taken seriously by social scientists and the results are very troubling. From the American Journal of Men’s Health,
“Minority Stress and Intimate Partner Violence Among
Gay and Bisexual Men in Atlanta”
“Over the past 10 years, there has been a growth in research that has illustrated that men who have sex with men (MSM) experience intimate partner violence (IPV) at rates that are substantially higher than those experienced by men who do not have sex with men, and rates that are comparable or higher to those among heterosexual women (Finneran & Stephenson, 2014). Estimated prevalence for receipt of IPV among MSM range from 12% (Stephenson, Khosropour, & Sullivan, 2010) to 45% (Craft & Serovich, 2005) for physical IPV, 1.8% (Bartholomew, Regan, Oram, & White, 2008) to 33% (Craft & Serovich, 2005) for sexual IPV, 28% (Pruitt, White, Mitchell, & Stephenson, 2015) to 64% (Bartholomew, Regan, White, & Oram, 2008) for emotional/psychological, and 32% (Houston & McKirnan, 2007) to 78% (Pantalone, Schneider, Valentine, & Simoni, 2011) for any form of IPV. Perpetration rates of violence have been comparatively less studied and ranges from 8.3% (Carvalho, Lewis, Derlega, Winstead, & Viggiano, 2011) to 35% (Welles, Corbin, Rich, Reed, & Raj, 2011).”
“There is evidence that rates of IPV may be higher among racial and ethnic minority MSM (De Santis, Gonzalez-Guarda, Provencio-Vasquez, & Deleon, 2014; Gonzalez-Guarda, Ortega, Vasquez, & De Santis, 2010; Houston & McKirnan, 2007; Kalichman et al., 2001; Koblin et al., 2006), men with lower levels of education (Greenwood et al., 2002), men with positive HIV status (Greenwood et al., 2002; Kalichman et al., 2001; Stall et al., 2003), and young MSM (those aged 15-24 years; Edwards, Sylaska, & Neal, 2015; Freedner, Freed, Yang, & Austin, 2002; Kubicek, McNeeley, & Collins, 2015, 2016; Stults, Javdani, Greenbaum, Kapadia, & Halkitis, 2015). Of particular importance to MSM is emergent evidence demonstrating a link between IPV and risk for HIV infection (Feldman, Ream, Díaz, & El-Bassel, 2007; Greenwood et al., 2002; Kalichman & Rompa, 1995; Koblin et al., 2006; Relf, 2001; Stephenson, Rentsch, Salazar, & Sullivan, 2011).”
“While several studies have begun to examine the influence of IPV on MSM’s mental and physical health, few published studies have examined the unique factors that shape the experience of IPV in same-sex male relationships. In a survey of 1,075 gay and bisexual men surveyed in Atlanta, Finneran and Stephenson (2014) reported that many of the triggers for IPV identified by studies of opposite-sex couples also emerged as significant antecedents for IPV among gay and bisexual men, including general life stressors such as alcohol, drugs, jealousy, dishonesty, and financial stress (Bell & Naugle, 2008; Wilkinson & Hamerschlag, 2005). Despite these similarities, their study also illustrated that there were a number of triggers to IPV that were specific to gay and bisexual men, including one or both partners not having disclosed their sexual identity, disagreements around sexual positioning, and threats to masculinity created by both men striving to be the “alpha male” in the relationship. Goldenberg, Stephenson, Freeland, Finneran, and Hadley (2016) explored the importance of male roles in shaping the risk of IPV further with qualitative data drawn from the same sample as Finneran and Stephenson (2014), identifying sources of tension that men identified as shaping the risk of IPV in their relationship, including gender role conflict, dyadic inequalities (e.g., differences in income, age, education), differences in “outness” about sexual identity, substance use, jealousy, and external homophobic violence.”
Usually, when we as a society think of abuse and domestic violence, some form of physical attack is usually presumed, but we wanted to look at verbal and emotional abuse, as it is usually a precursor to physical violence, but is also damaging in its own right. Also, gay male culture is built upon an accepted level of verbal and emotional abuse that is called “reading”, “throwing shade”, “being bitchy” or any number of other terms which basically means that we can say and do whatever we want because we are gay. This level of logic extends into our personal relationships and builds upon the hurts and traumas of our childhood and homophobia in the world and in ourselves. The following are copies of the Tweets we sent out over the month, describing some types of abusive gay males and their behaviours. Of course this is not a total and complete list, but just some of the major warning signs you should look out for, and if you are doing this shit…CUT IT OUT!
“Why does a man do what he does? Because he wants to!”
Too often, we make excuses for the hurts and harms committed by others, especially our loved ones. We don’t want to admit, or face the facts, that the true enemy in our lives is laying in bed next to us. But the truth of the matter is that as gay males we have a greater chance of being physically, emotionally and verbally abused by our sexual partners than we do of being gay bashed. So, the first thing we need to do, is understand that if we have been victims of abuse, we are not the ones responsible, this is totally the fault of our abuser.
Why does a man do what he does? Because he wants to. Why doesn’t a man do something? Because he didn’t want to. Men are not very complex. Reasons rarely matter. Trust and believe what he does, not what he says he will do. Stop making excuses for his actions or lack there of.
The liar: Makes promises he will never keep. Breaks dates, doesn’t call/text/email back. Says he will change but NEVER does. His word means nothing, so he can’t be trusted. Leave him.
Some of the above actions may not seem like a big deal, but in the grand scheme of a relationship, he is telling you that he cannot be trusted and that his word has little to no value. How can you trust someone like this with your heart, mind and body?
The Hope Bringer: He makes plans for the future with you knowing he won’t be around. He builds up your trust just to betray you. He makes you hope again, that maybe true love is possible. Then he breaks your heart, leaving you worse than before.
This type of guy is very scary. He has the ability to zone in our our greatest hopes and desires and claim to want them too and able to provide them. Some of us are relationship ready and have a hard time finding someone to settle down with. Our community doesn’t place that much value on long-term monogamous relationships, and those of us that want this, seem to have a neon sign on our foreheads that says THE MARRYING TYPE. For some reason, predators and abusers love to seek us out, use and abuse us, before moving on. We have no answer as to why.
The Cheater: Monogamy isn’t in his vocabulary, no matter what he promises. He believes males were meant to have numerous sexual partners. He forces an open relationship on you or threatens to leave. His cheating makes you distrust men for life.
Unfortunately, every gay man has either met this man, or will be in some form of a relationship with him very soon. These guys believe that being a man means that he gets to stick his dick wherever he pleases without repercussions or responsibility. He is so weak that he cannot even stress that he might want an open relationship, and give you the right to decide if it is a good option for you. So, he goes behind your back and does his dirty deeds. Once you have been cheated on, you are changed fundamentally as a gay man. There is no going back. Trust issues will follow you through every relationship from then on.
The family/friend man: He’s proudly a momma boy. She will always come first. Just like his sister/her kids, he’s the man of their homes & you are a threat. His friends must like you too. Everyone has priority over you & he let’s you know it all the time.
This guy has been around as long as there have been homosexuals. A long time ago he might have been the “confirmed bachelor” or even the youngest son who entered the priesthood. His responsibility is to his family and friends, first and foremost. You rank very far down on the list, but he somehow cannot understand why he can’t keep a relationship. His family is also a safety net against a cruel world and failed dating experiences that are usually his fault. It is a vicious cycle that only gay men seem to enjoy. Straight guys don’t live this way. If we are ever going to take advantage of gay marriage rights, these guys are going to need to cut the cord from their momma’s apron strings. Or the rest of us will need to run as far and fast away from them as possible.
The Nay Sayer: He has nothing nice to say about what you do, how you look or your accomplishments. He isn’t supportive of your goals and constantly tells you that it will never work and that you aren’t good enough. He tries to dull your shine.
Too often our community stresses the GAY part of our lives but ignores or tries to reject the MALE part. The two cannot be separated and they can rear their ugly heads inside of relationships. As the research above states, many acts of abuse stem from alpha tendencies butting heads and also male driven competition. This is where the Nay Sayer thrives. He needs to knock you down a peg to make himself feel better. You cannot have a level of success that outshines him. He is not your partner, rather your competitor.
The Changer: He loves everything about you, except the massive list of things you need to change. Maybe it is your clothes, friends, apartment, education, job or something else, he is the only one who can FIX you.
Love is funny. It is a chemical reaction in the brain that begins to fade with time. This is when you are no longer the sunshine of his life and your perceived flaws are all he can see, even if they don’t exist. But sometimes this guy can show up in your life and begin this process from day one. You can never do anything right. Your clothes are wrong, your education isn’t enough, your friends are bad, etc. If he cannot accept you for who you are now, it won’t get any better in the future. You shouldn’t need to change who you are for someone that claims to love you unconditionally.
The Isolationist: He will separate you from friends and family. Move you far from those who love and support you. Keep new ppl from coming into your life. The only person you are allowed to interact with is him. He must be your entire world.
This guy is creepy AF! It won’t be fast, but it will happen. Little by little he wants to share his time with you, which you love, but at the expense of others in your life. He doesn’t like or trust your friends, thinks your family is against your relationship, doesn’t believe you have the ability to choose proper people in your life, so he takes over. The extremes can be not only physical isolation but even moving you across the country or world, away from those who would notice and react to his extreme behaviour. You might even become home bound, not allowed to work or shop without his permission or presence. He will become your entire world.
The Blamer: Nothing is ever his fault, but if he did something wrong, it was because of something you did first. Lives for the term, “But what about”.
This guy can’t take responsibility for any of his actions. From taking out the garbage, paying bills on time, remembering to get milk from the market, to even bigger things like maintaining a job, staying fit and even not cheating. Somehow it is not his fault, but yours or someone else’s. There is always something you didn’t do that made his situation happen. And when you call him out on his bullshit, he begins to change the subject to something you did a long time ago, even if it has no relevance or significance to the current argument. This is immature behaviour that will keep you from ever having a true partner.
The Intimidator: He wants you to live in fear. You begin to trust him and he uses that information against you. He makes threats during arguments to call the police. He will out you at work, disclose your
#HIV status, share details with family.
One some level, this trait exists in many of us. Our lizard brains don’t do well with rejection and try our best to keep the things and people we want around us, sometimes at all costs. Arguments lead to threats that are most times not real, but for some, they are a daily occurrence with real consequences. All that you have and done is on the line to be used against you. From finances to health issues, this guy is making a list and checking it twice to see how you can be manipulated in the future. One important factor to note with this guy, is that he quickly will claim to be a victim and use any and all of his knowledge against you with the police, court systems or even friends. Watch what you tell him, because it will be thrown back in your face soon enough.
Mr. Passive aggressive: It’s never his fault. He doesn’t communicate and holds everything in, to explode on you later. When angry, is thoughtless and forgetful about you, plays head games but denies it. He cries a lot but never changes.
Many gay men rely on this tactic in arguments or daily interactions. He forces you to fish for information about his past life, current job or even feelings. When you ask, his answer is “its nothing important”, “I don’t want to bother you” or some other method that forces you to play his game. He is also known to play the victim role and even forget things such as your birthday, anniversary, or even how you like your hamburgers when you ask him to pick up dinner. The apologies come fast and loose but hold no value. The world revolves around him, but he won’t ever tell you that, you will need to drill for that information.
Our point about
#Gay male abuse is that it takes many forms, not just physical. You must communicate and watch for the signs of verbal and emotional abuse as well. Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can scar just as deeply.