Sunday, September 25, 2005

Domestic Abuse and Violence in Gay Relationships - The Words of a Victim (Part III)

I have had some poignant responses to this entry. This one, I think, most clearly tells the story in the words of a victim. With his permission, I am posting it for you.

"I was the victim of violence in a past relationship. However, at first, I dismissed it all as "a fight between guys," not "some one-sided story you hear on Oprah." I think many gay men do this, and seem to accept these fights as almost routine. Is it because we are raised to believe that we only can't hit girls? I had moved to Philadelphia with my ex. We had known each other for only about a year. Our relationship progressed quickly as we had only known each other for a few months when we moved in together. We had a lot in common. We were also raised in the same neighborhood, so he wasn't a total stranger. We seemed to be drawn to the same higher spiritual truths and liked the same music. We shared clothes. Since we had the same prescription, we even shared glasses and contact lenses! (Hey, we were young...what can I say?) He traveled a lot for work. Since it was his job (that I found for him) that took us to Philly, I was pretty bored the first few months. I was looking for work and trying to make new friends. Soon, I found myself strangely attracted to a friendly clique of Puerto Rican fellas in South Philly. They spoke English but I barely understood a word they said in Spanish. They actually looked like my family to me, and they always made me feel at home. It was all plutonic, and I just felt safe with them. I didn't know it until then, but my ex didn't like Puerto Ricans. He could be prejudiced that way. He also couldn't believe that I wasn't cheating on him with one (or more) of these beautiful men. I later realized that he was bitter about an unrequited love affair with a PR man he knew. It also seemed obvious that he thought that I was more attractive than he, and assumed that everyone liked me as much as he did. He made an even more dangerous leap and assumed that I would respond in kind, objectifying me to the level of "boy toy" with no ability to discriminate with whom I keep company. He didn't trust them, or me. One evening, a day or so after my ex had returned from a long business trip, I told him that there was a party in S. Philly, that I was going, and that he was specifically invited. I felt that it was important to my maintaining friendships with them when he was away so much. He didn't want to go. He didn't want me to either. So, when I headed for the door, he hit me from behind with a large piece of metal that scratched me from the top of my head to the middle of my back. Still unemployed in a new city, and over-inundated with flowers and apologies, I actually stayed. Less than a year went by and he had taken yet another of many long trips. He had gotten impatient with my not working (even though I exhausted my savings to move us there.) So, I was working a full-time job during the day and teaching classes in the evenings. This time, I had several classes scheduled, and we weren't going to be able celebrate our reunion like we had. Yet, he wanted me to cancel starting a class that had been scheduled precariously around the schedules of very very busy people (...desperate for the material, and with money!). On the way out the door, again, this time he took my glasses and crushed them in his hands. I taught the class with no glasses and a broken heart. I knew what I had to do though. I slept on the stoop of a friend's house that night in February because she was inexplicably away that night. I couldn't drive, after all. He found me, and I went back with him to get my things. When he realized I was planning to leave, he put me through a plaster wall and fractured a rib. I stayed with my friend for several days, then found a room for rent (having put all my money in our household), and eventually found an apartment and went on with a very interesting life in Philly. I sat on a springy mattress in my room for rent and found myself face to face with my situation. As much as I had seen this on talk shows and in movies, I never thought it would happen to me. I also said the same thing many have said here. Statements like "...it'll be the last thing he ever does." etc., rolled off my lips for years before I met him. Yet, being in love, and feeling that what we had that was good and so special, I talked myself into giving it another chance. The movie "What's Love Got to Do With It?" comes to mind because I too was too busy empathizing with him to realize that there was plenty of abuse between those fights. Feeling restricted; having interference in relationships outside the intimate one; being treated like a prized possession, rather than a man; and being made to feel that I wasn't carrying my weight in our lives were all subtle forms of abuse (especially when it was so untrue). I might also add that he was smaller than me. He was also the one that everyone called "sister-girl." He was clearly the feminine half of our relationship. So, it was true for me as well that the least expected party became the perpetrator. I agree that there was a sort of Napoleonic complex within him because of his aggressive disposition at times. Over the years, the fact that he had the same zodiac sign of an adult abuser from my own childhood made me think. This person was female (too... ), but she always made me feel like she needed me. My ex had painted himself the victim as well. They both took advantage of my empathy, but it is no surprise that I would have entered an abusive relationship in my adulthood after having suffered one as a child. Gay people especially endure tons of abuse and frequently get caught in patterns of with these kinds of relationships. I found my way out before it got to be a lifetime of it all. Yet, many do not. Even I am not sure if I'll ever really overcome the betrayal of having the person with whom I made love fracture bones and draw blood. I am not sure if I'll ever allow myself to be that "vulnerable" again."

I cannot add to this story. The words of the victim says it all. Interestingly, this article on the same topic by Dr. Kevin Wang was published in Pridesource on September 22, 2005. Very timely.

Shem hotep!

1 comment:

Rashid @ Old Gold Soul said...

Thank you so much for posting this....I am overwhelmed.