By Lauren Boyette, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
With the focus on females in heterosexual relationships comprising the majority of survivors of intimate partner violence, it is easy to put same-sex IPV survivors in the back of the mind. So many people don’t even think about the LGBTQIA+ community when they are thinking about domestic abuse. As same-sex marriage is in its national infancy, it’s easy to understand that IPV in the LGBTQIA+ community hasn’t gotten much “radio-time” in national media. But it does happen.
According to statistics, 44% of lesbian women and 26% of gay men have experienced rape, physical abuse, and/or stalking behavior from a partner within their life (www.domestic shelters.org). That’s almost half of lesbian women and almost a third of gay men. Those are huge numbers! But even with numbers that large, we aren’t hearing much about same-sex domestic violence in the media. Individuals within this community are already experiencing marginalization because of their sexual orientation; imagine how an individual experiencing domestic violence in a same-sex relationship must feel when they are excluded from the majority of the reported information on this issue.
When looking at transgender individuals and IPV the numbers are even more staggering. The Williams Institute reports that somewhere between 31.1% and 50% of transgender individuals have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. This number spans such a wide range because of underreporting by this community, as well as misrepresentation of reporting due to legal definitions of intimate partner violence due to legal/expressed gender. While individuals in same-sex relationships have their own unique barriers, transgender individuals experiencing IPV have compounded legal issues surrounding their gender along with the definition of domestic abuse.
For all individuals in LGBTQIA+ relationships that may be the victims of IPV, the availability of resources for this community may also be a barrier to seeking assistance and reporting their abuse. There needs to be an ongoing dialogue about how we can include all survivors of IPV in the effort to help survivors and work through the issue of domestic abuse. We need to make sure that LGBTQIA+ survivors know that resources are available, and if they aren’t available in our local communities, we need to take steps towards inclusivity and availability.
For all survivors, we see you. For IPV survivors in the LGBTQIA+ community, you are not alone.
If I could speak clearly, eloquently and informatively on any topic I would want people to know that those who leave an abusive situation are survivors. Many people are judged, held prisoner to lofty ideals, religious rules and societal suppositions. The reality is that a victim of abuse does not think in those terms, they are too busy trying to survive. Every day is a carefully calculated, tenuously played game, like a game of chess with survival as the goal.
I used to be one who thought that if people got divorced it was because they gave up, didn’t try hard enough and didn’t trust God enough to work in their marriage. I now know that is a naïve, one dimensional way to look at a situation as complex as an abusive marriage. Sure! God can do anything, work in any situation and cover any heart, no matter how far gone, with His grace, love and forgiveness. However, my simplistic view did not take into account that marriage is made up of TWO individuals. One person, no matter how committed, cannot keep a marriage together. They can spend their life, health and self-esteem as the currency to pay the deficit, trying to achieve the fantasy of a loving marriage. However, it will not be a marriage, not the way God designed it to be.
What I would like to tell those who are tempted to judge from a distance, offer trite colloquialisms on restoration; who have never been in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued by addictions is this: You cannot possibly know the horror that a person in this situation has lived in. Words fail to properly articulate the pain, confusion and total emptiness that this type of situation creates within a person. Judging a person for not “trying hard enough” or “not sticking it out long enough” puts heaping weight on their already heavy laden shoulders.
An abusive marriage is the twisted form of a holy institute. Before you judge a person for leaving an abusive marriage, know that they have probably judged themselves far more than you can imagine. Finding the strength to reach out and get help took everything they had. They are weak, vulnerable and weary. Instead of pointing fingers and throwing verbal stones; I submit it’s better to reach out in love, seek to understand and lend a listening ear. We are champions for the institute of marriage and defenders of the weak. We love the unlovely. We call sin, sin. We know that God’s grace in each of our lives is the only reason we are who we are today. Instead of tearing the hurting among us down; let’s build each other up in love and spur each other onto doing good works in Christ Jesus. After all, we are the church, the body of Christ.
From My Heart to Yours,
By Hannah Moore, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
This resource is intended to bring awareness to the violence that is so readily available in popular media. Specifically, there are several instances of covert, or unidentified violence in movies marketed to all different ages and populations. The few listed in the visual infographic are just a couple of examples; hopefully highlighting the ways violence presents itself to the consuming audience without acknowledgement.
This tool can be used to begin a discussion with members of different age groups, and begin to raise awareness and responsible consumption of popular media and movies among all audiences. This tool can also be used in a way to help bring awareness to instances of violence in one’s own life that may not be immediately apparent.
Hannah Moore is a recent graduate of the Counseling and Educational Development Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. During her time there, she focused on Couples and Family Counseling, and has a passion for working with children and families at all developmental levels.
“Are My Feelings Normal?”: Deciphering how you feel as a survivor of abuse, and realizing that it’s OK
By Chandler Schmid, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Surviving emotional and physical abuse by a partner or a loved one can cause emotions one has never felt or even fathomed. Whether you are just outside of an abusive relationship, or even years out, these emotions can be extremely difficult to navigate.
Most people assume that survivors of abuse are beaten-down victims, a shadow of the person they once were. But they don’t have to be. In fact, they can be happy, sad, confused, and mad, and still be reacting the correct way.
You see, the idea that ‘one feeling fits all’ hasn’t worked in everyday situations and certainly does not work here. The most common issue that survivors of abuse admit to facing is the idea of ‘what’s next,’ not knowing where to go, how to feel, bogged down by questions. This post is meant to help deal with one of these common issues: how should I feel? And the answer is surprisingly simple: you should feel exactly how you feel.
We are all different people who have different reactions and views. So the emotions stemming from an abusive relationship can be challenging to navigate but can be more common among survivors than you think.
The important thing that rings true with sorting through your feelings is knowing that you are not alone. There are men, women, and children, people young and old, all ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations who are faced with domestic violence.
It’s important to note: Some reactions that are negative in nature are OK to feel, but should be talked about with professionals, in groups, or with family and friends. Again, it’s acceptable to feel these ways, but only to the point of where it doesn’t control us.
Below are 5 core emotions survivors of all kind can face. These feelings can stem from different places in a persons life, but the result is still the same.
The Feeling Of GUILT:
Guilt is a very powerful emotion on its own, but coupled with the feelings and memories of abuse can fuel the sensation even more. Many survivors talk about the feeling of guilt and can stem from many different circumstances. A common example is an effected family. It could be because you feel you may have let down the family, separated the children from a parent, and more. It could also come from an internal belief that you brought this upon yourself and your loved ones.
Why It’s OK: An abuser tends to know how to press your buttons, knows your weaknesses, and exploits them. They most likely blamed you and said you are the reason it’s happening. Guilt is a natural feeling, but it doesn’t have to define you. The reason your family or life is different is because of the abuser, not because of you.
Similar Emotions Felt: Humiliation, shame
The Feeling Of ANGER:
How could this happen to me? How could they do this? An abusive partner takes from you, holds up your life, and controls you. You don’t have the freedom you deserve. They want to command how you live your life and that can be angering. Imagine telling a friend what they can do and where they can go-they would be upset! They would be angry!
Why It’s OK: Anger shows that you are still feeling and that you haven’t lost hope. Anger can be good! You deserve to be angry with your abuser; it shows that you want to fight for what they’ve taken.
Similar Emotions Felt: Confusion
The Feeling Of FEAR:
It is very common to feel fear. Fear your abuser will be back, that you will fall into another similar relationship, fear that you can’t trust yourself. Fear is very powerful controller in fueling what we do and don’t do.
Why It’s OK: You just went through possibly the toughest part of your life. It makes sense to fear the future. But as long as you know the signs and reach out for help, you can shed light on the fear and the possibility of anything like it from happening to you or loved ones again.
The Feeling Of LONLINESS:
Does it feel like you’re in a shell? Like no one can penetrate the wall that’s separating you from speaking your truth? From standing up for yourself? Being able to love? It can feel like no one understands you, that your situation is different from everyone else’s. But people and loved ones want to help. They want to understand.
A common abuser tactic is to isolate their victims. The abuser has manipulated your life to cut you off from help, but the abuser no longer has their weapon. Without their manipulation, you have gained control.
Why It’s OK: It’s ok to feel like no one gets you, but its different when you never allow someone the chance to help. We all go through stages of helplessness and a desire to hide there, but the people who love you, who are trying to help, want you to see that there’s a light at the end of it all.
The Feeling Of HAPPINESS: You read this right! Happiness! You just survived something that some people could never grasp. That fact alone is amazing and powerful. You have regained your life (or are just starting to!) and are beginning a new chapter. You are no longer living in a repressed state-you are free.
Why It’s OK: You may be thinking it’s impossible to be happy after living through such a dark time, but some people are joyful survivors! It may not be right away (or maybe it is!), but it’s OK to be happy. You are strong and capable and a fighter. You are taking control and that’s a great reason to be joyful.
Similar Emotions Felt: Bliss, strength
Chandler Schmid is a future social worker who is inspired by helping others and making people feel worthy and validated. She has a heart for children’s issues and is currently pursuing child counseling.