In a recent class with 9th grade girls, we did a version of an exercise where one person stands in the middle of larger group of their classmates. She represents the person in an abusive relationship. Each of the surrounding people, one by one, read an unsupportive statement and cut their connection to her by turning their back to her. As the circle turned their back on her, her abuser, standing just off to the side, is clearly the only one left that is there for her.
The exercise was repeated and the surrounding students read very supportive statements. They re-established a connection to her by facing her and reaching out their hands to her. The visual was clear and dramatic. The victim now had a network of relationships that would sustain and support her, whatever she decides to do.
The exercise was profound for everyone, most of all, the student in the middle. She had a dramatically difference response both times – feeling abandoned and alone and horrible the first time; ready to think, plan, accept help, and take care of herself the second time.
My takeaway from this series on IPV, reinforced deeply by that exercise just 2 weeks ago, is that my judgment isn’t what is needed. What is most important to the victim is maintaining a connection – possibly a lifeline. I won’t forget.
At Prepare, we acknowledge that who you are, what identity group(s) you belong to, and how you are socially situated, impacts your:
- vulnerability to violence;
- how you are most likely to be targeted; and
- what responses might be available to you, including whether you will have access to the legal right to self-defense or resources for support.
How IPV affects men and people in the LGBTQ community.
“According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Report (2010), about 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men report being abused by intimate partners, including, physical abuse, stalking and sexual violence. “
These numbers would lead us to generalize that men and women experience IPV similarly. While the intensity and nature vary, as noted below, men still experience IPV and that matters.
As Sara Staggs explains, “The patterns of assault experienced by gender varies, however, and here is where we see women having a harder time by most any measure (while not minimizing the experience of men). When all IPV victims were asked about the type of domestic violence they have experienced, over 92% of men report only experiencing physical violence, whereas while just over half of women report (56.8%) only physical violence, more than 1 in 3 report experiencing physical violence in addition to stalking, rape or both (p. 41). This type of abuse is more characteristic of emotional terrorism as opposed to impulsive outbursts.”
Particular acts that men and women perpetrate against their partners also tend to vary by gender, women experience a wider range of emotional aggression and coercive control, and, “Women are 4-5 times more likely to be killed by a partner than men are, which is especially striking when you consider the fact that men are far more likely to be victims of homicide.” “Despite the surprisingly similar levels of experiencing IPV, only 1 in 10 men report an impact from the IPV, which included PTSD symptoms, fearing for one’s safety, needing medical attention and other professional supports and missing work/school.”
The statistics are clear that IPV doesn’t skip over same-sex, or same-gender, relationships, or relationships with transgender individuals.
“…individuals with a history of same-sex relationships report higher levels of intimate partner abuse than those with exclusively other-sex history. Transgender individuals are not represented as a group in almost all of the literature, but the little information that is available suggests that they are at the highest levels of risk of partner abuse.”
Osman Ahmed, one of the authors of the 2013 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report on IPV in the LGBT community, in an interview with Jamilah King of Colorlines, said, “how you identify is an important factor in terms of how abuse can happen [because] your identity can be used against you within intimate partner violence.”
- In 2013, 76% of IPV homicide victims were gay men
- Gay men, LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities of color, LGBTQ and HIV-affected youth and young adults, bisexual survivors, undocumented survivors, and transgender communities most impacted by IPV
The report notes, these survivors of violence rarely go to the police, the courts or domestic violence shelters. In other words, an additional layer of challenges and concerns about reporting and getting help are set on top of those that already exist. This may account for part of the difficulty in data gathering and accurate statistics. Another factor is lack of attention to the needs and concerns of these communities.
King writes, “In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on intimate partner violence that included sexual orientation, but left out gender identity. Still, the results showed that LGBT partnerships were not immune to violence: 44 percent of lesbian women and 61 percent of bisexual women have experienced physical violence, stalking or rape in their intimate partnerships.”
In summation, our series on IPV/Domestic Violence highlights that it is a widespread and serious problem in our society. As with sexual assault and harassment, it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t experienced it directly or through the life of someone close to them.
The prevalence of violence in relationships requires a multi-faceted approach that all members of our society need to engage with to create meaningful and lasting change. As we reach for solutions that span the spectrum of comprehensive violence prevention, we need to consider that the experience isn’t the same for everyone and not everyone defines success the same way. It is our job to reach out, ask what would be helpful, refrain from victim-blaming, and not turn our backs.
Next week, Terin Izil, director of Camp Promise for people with neuromuscular disorders, talks about IMPACT for people with disabilities.
Please join us for our next post and invite others to do so as well.