I want to address a topic that might be a bit uncomfortable, but needs to be addressed. It is Lesbian domestic violence. According to research by Suzana Rose, Ph.D.National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center University of Missouri at St. Louis the statistics are alarming.17% to 45% of lesbians report having been the victim of physical abuse.
In Honolulu there is lesbian violence and I have personally witnessed it. I have been to Queens Beach, which is a known gay hangout and saw a couple, both female engaged in an argument and the larger woman shoved the other. The dialogue was the same as a heterosexual couples. The argument was related to jealousy, power and control. I asked if they needed any help…like the police and they both got quiet and friendly. I diffused the argument for the moment.
In an interview with Honolulu woman (Ms.L) who wishes to remain anonymous she was willing to share her story about her previous relationship with a woman who was well known in both gay and straight community in Honolulu. She fears retaliation if she goes public with this information.
According to the woman, her partner would have anger outbursts at the slightest provocation. Those outbursts turned to pushing and shoving, screaming and hitting. She told the woman’s best friends (another lesbian couple) and was told that she was exaggerating the incidents. She feared going to the police because of the gay stigma that she might encounter. At the time of the incidents they had both been drinking wine which added to the upset. She suffered psychological abuse from her partner in the form of the ‘silent treatment’, withholding of affection and verbal insults.
Ms. L says she did not feel that she could go to a battered woman’s shelter because she was in a lesbian relationship. In Honolulu the woman’s shelters welcome all women regardless of sexual orientation. Same-sex couples are excluded from obtaining a protective order in seven states (Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Montana, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia) and often excluded in three states (Florida, Maryland, and Mississippi). Hawaii does allow a protective order in a homosexual relationship.
Ms. L sad her abuser suffered abuse as a child from her father. Research shows that abusers were abused by someone else and the abuse has the ‘trickle down effect’; it can be passed along to others. She added that there are other fallacies that are perpetuated about the “butch-femme” roles. In some lesbian couples there are no roles. Abuse can be perpetrated by either the stronger or weaker person. Abusers can be anyone, any shape, size or any sexual orientation. Abuse is abuse.
Ms. L broke up with her partner and is now happily single. She said the relationship red flags of domestic violence are the same for gays or straights. If you feel you are in an abusive relationship contact your local woman’s shelter.
If you or someone else needs help or to talk to someone call the crisis line. They will help ALL women and do not discriminate against any sexual orientation. 808-841-0822.