Sunday, October 2, 2011

October 2011

I know, Poppets, I know. Every October, it’s the same thing from me. I’m a broken record. But every October, it’s still Domestic Violence Awareness month. When it no longer needs to be, I’ll write about something else. Until then, I’m going to keep writing about it and trying to break down some of the stigma that goes along with admitting a relationship is unhealthy.

While you know I care about this issue every year, 2011 has been especially poignant for me. Back in January, two dear friends of mine recognized their relationships were abusive. What made it so difficult for both of them is neither was in a physically abusive relationship. Name calling, manipulation, belittling, psychological warfare, sure. But no hitting, no pushing, nothing that would have drawn that definitive line in the sand for either of my friends.

The other thing that made it so hard for both of them was neither of them is a person who is “supposed” to be in an abusive relationship. You know what I mean. We all have this idea of who a victim is, of who an abuser is. Neither of my friends fit that idea. The first one is an Alpha male, by any definition. Physically, mentally and emotionally strong; highly educated, with several degrees on his wall; a college professor type, along the lines of Rupert Giles, of Buffy fame. Not exactly your stereotypical victim.

The other is a woman, also well educated, from a strong, loving home. Her husband is an ordained minister. Not a stereotypical victim, but not your stereotypical abuser, either.

And that’s the way this works: we think we are immune because we aren’t a certain type; our abuser isn’t “one of those people;” we’re Queer, for God’s sake! Domestic violence is a straight problem. Only it’s not; neither of my friends mentioned here are straight. There is no “type.” There is no exempt community or group. There but for the grace of God, and all that. Which is why we must keep talking about it, writing about it, shining the light on it.

That’s where a couple really great organizations come in. Down in Seattle, the NW Network is an LGBT centered organization dealing with Queer and Transgendered domestic violence issues by working “to end violence and abuse by building loving and equitable relationships in our community and across the country.” To get help, offer help, or just to learn more, you can reach them Monday through Friday at 206/568-7777. Closer to home, the Skagit County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services is officially an LGBT safe zone. They offer a 24-hour hotline: 888/336-9591. Finally, the Washington state domestic violence hotline is available 24-hours a day, as well, at 800/562-6025, and its staff is trained to address the needs of our community.

It’s not easy to admit your partner is hurting you. Victims leave their abusers seven times on average, before it finally sticks. But you do not deserve to be belittled or threatened or hurt. And your batterer doesn’t deserve your protection. Neither of you can get better until the violence stops.

As for my friends? I’m pleased to report he got out. Blocked his phone, went to the police, did what he had to do to move on. She…well…I still have hope. I still have hope that one day she’ll leave him for good. Until then, until those of us who love you don’t have to worry any longer, I’ll keep writing, keep working, keep hoping. Broken record or not.

Until next month, Poppets, take care of you.

1 comment:

Bill Dameron said...

A great post and reminder. Thank you for sharing