As you’re aware, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And as a journalist, my signature issue is Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A), the term commonly used for domestic violence and abuse in the LGBTQ community.
Some time ago, I wrote an exclusive series for Baltimore OUTloud entitled, “Broken Dreams… Broken Bones.” In it, I defined and fully explained IPV/A, along with the effects and ramifications of this deplorable, heinous—and potentially life-threatening behavior. In that series, I interviewed an IPV/A victim. His is a harrowing and poignant story.
So without further ado, I present “Broken Dreams…Broken Bones.”
Towering over me and yelling at the top of his lungs, Antonio, my 6’4”, 280-pound muscled life partner, had me pinned against the wall, his huge, clammy left hand now grasping my neck. I couldn’t move!
All the while, the following thoughts flashed in my head: “This can’t be happening! How can the man who’s repeatedly professed his undying love be doing this to me? How can he hurt me this way? HOW???”
And then, Antonio…
These are excerpts from my current novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart-Uncensored” (gay/ethnic). The two protagonists are Antonio and Wesley. Tragically, Antonio allows old demons and misconstrued circumstances to make him snap. As a result, he batters Wesley.
As I stated in Part One of “Broken Dreams…Broken Bones,” anyone can become a victim of domestic violence and abuse–regardless of size, strength, age, gender, or sexual orientation. In the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, domestic violence/abuse generally is referred to as Intimate Partner Violence/Abuse (IPV/A).
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs defines IPV/A as “a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the abuser or batterer) to exert and maintain control, through fear and intimidation, over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.” It is estimated that each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay men are battered. About one in four LGBTI relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way.
Kyle, a twenty-eight-year-old Caucasian, is a recent IPV/A survivor. He agreed to sit down with me on the condition that I refer to him by his middle name. Kyle says that “Derrick,” his ex-partner, a thirty-year-old African-American, horrifically abused him for nearly two years.
Evans: Kyle, thanks for agreeing to tell your important story. When and how did you meet Derrick?
Kyle: (His eyes light up.) It was in mid-January 2011, at a Sprint store in Laurel (Maryland). Our eyes locked, and the chemistry was instantaneous!
Kyle: He initiated a conversation, and we walked outta the store together. He took my number, and said he’d call. (Pause.) I couldn’t wait! I was so damned attracted.
Evans: Kyle, exactly what was the attraction?
Kyle: Wyatt, I was very needy. Derrick was easy-going and self-assured, and seemed nurturing. And so handsome! He was that “daddy” I was looking for.
Evans: When did he call?
Kyle: Late that night, and we talked for hours! Derrick wanted to see me the next evening, at my apartment. Since he was insistent, I agreed. I was flattered.
Evans: And that evening?
Kyle: Immediately, we ended up in bed. And the sex was absolutely mind-blowing! We became a couple right after that.
Evans: So Kyle, how long did the “honeymoon” last?
Kyle: (He laughs nervously.) Not very long. Derrick became possessive—constantly calling to check up on me. Wanting me with him practically 24/7. Isolating me. He was such an overwhelming presence.
Kyle: But being needy, I liked it–at first. Thought it was love. I kept saying to myself, “I’m so lucky to have him!”
Kyle: And the sex was a drug.
Evans: Things became even more extreme, correct?
Kyle: Absolutely! The mind control began. Derrick told me how to think, act, and dress. And my biggest mistake was agreeing to let him move in with me.
Kyle: (suddenly becoming solemn.) The verbal—racial crap, etc.—started soon after.
Evans: And the physical?
(Kyle takes a deep breath.)
Kyle: A few weeks after moving in, he accuses me of cheating. Totally ridiculous! Derrick was all up in my face, shouting. I was totally petrified!
Kyle: Then, he decks me. Hard! I fall to the floor.
(Kyle begins to sob. I ask him to take his time.)
Kyle: I was completely “out of it.” Then, Derrick grabs me by the collar, screaming, “You nasty little white whore! Wake tha f**k up! We ain’t done yet!”
Kyle: Next, he drags me to the bathroom. To the toilet! And then he…”
Evans: And then he what, Kyle? (He’s sobbing heavily now, rocking back and forth. He’s in “flashback mode.”)
Kyle: He…he shoves my head into the toilet! Over and over again! (Pause.) Water’s all up my nose. I’m gasping for air. I felt like I’d pass out.
Kyle: Actually, I just wanted to go to sleep…and not wake up.
Kyle stated that the verbal and physical abuse worsened and escalated. Fortunately, another gay couple helped him make his “Great Escape.”
I asked Kyle why he stayed as long as he did. “Out of fear, shame, such little self-worth. Not to mention the stigma.” Kyle’s moved out of the area, and is in counseling.
And Derrick? He’s doing jail time.
If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call: the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901).