Domestic violence can happen to anyone, in any relationship. Here’s why you are never to blame.
Domestic violence: it’s the gay man’s dirty little secret.
Verbal or emotional, there’s nothing “fabulous” about being the victim or the aggressor in gay domestic violence.
Imagine Trent—rugged, masculine, man’s man. The epitome of a mountain man, straight from the pages of an REI catalogue. He’s enough to make women swoon. Sorry ladies … he’s gay. He’s also in an abusive relationship with a small guy … small guy being the operative words in so many ways.
Regardless of sexual orientation, smaller people are usually the abusers. Not small in stature. Small in mind. Yet, this growing issue amongst gay men is rarely talked about, so let’s talk about it.
For starters, a National Violence Against Women survey found that 21.5% of gay men, living with a same-sex partner, experience some form of domestic abuse in their relationships.
Similarly, a 2010 CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, re-released in 2013, indicated that 26% of gay men will encounter rape, physical violence, or stalking. These studies draw a firm line in the sand, contradicting any belief that domestic violence is only a heterosexual female issue.
Now that the proof is in the studies and statistics, it begs the question, “Why is this happening?”
Initial assumptions might conclude, “What you see is what you do.”
Maybe he picked up dirty little habits acquired by living in an abusive household as a child. Maybe, but that’s only one possibility.
Secondary suppositions place the blame on the aggressors’ own internalized homophobia. Accepted, acknowledged, and OK, yes, validated; yet, there’s still more to this issue than meets the unconscious eye.
Lashing out, verbal tongue-lashings, objects being thrown, pushing, shoving, and hitting, all indicate something is awry in the small mind of the gay man’s aggression towards another gay man.
Is it a need to control? A reflection of jealousy? A disgust for a partner’s success?
Yes, yes, and yes. Each of these thorns drive deep wounds into the side of the insecure assailant—consciously and unconsciously.
As an example, let’s go back to Trent’s real-life experience. Successful, good-looking, easy to get along with, a real gay man’s catch. Yet, he became a victim of his boyfriend’s Jekyll and Hyde personality which caused him to say, “Adios, sick amigo. Go get some help.”
But not until after first suffering through verbal and mental abuse. Trent lingered because he had no defense mechanism at the ready, no protocol for reacting to ludicrous outbursts.
Raised in a non-violent, loving family, Trent only ever witnessed family dysfunction of the standard fare—holiday dramas, Dad too focused on sports, Mom’s overbearing protectiveness, sibling rivalries. All a far cry from fist slams to the chest, and demeaning verbal diarrhea of the mouth cast upon him by an insecure partner (who professed to love him).
Like most people caught in the throws of intimate partner violence, Trent was not only dumbfounded by the aggression he experienced, he was fearful and began walking on eggshells—eggshells that cracked silently in the thoughts of his mind each time his once-heart’s-desire walked into the room.
Was he somehow responsible? Had he done or said something he didn’t recall, causing this riff? Should he be more attentive in some manner he was unaware of?
Regardless of the questions victims ask themselves in these situations, 99.99% of the time the fault is NOT theirs to own.
Under close examination, the petri dish of outlandish behavior by an abusive gay partner is often a result of:
1. Known and unknown abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Altered states of being often bring forth the Devil’s due of insecurities within an abuser. The more insecure or frightened they become while in a chemical or alcohol induced state, the narrower the tight rope they walk of lucid, appropriate behavior.
2. You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good, baby you’re no good.
No amount of admiration extolled upon an abuser by their partner, boyfriend, or husband will ever free the abuser from their own low self-esteem until they choose to love themselves first.
3. Apologies-fix-everything syndrome.
Maybe in the movies apologies are the bee’s knees, but in real life they have their limits. Abusers often find themselves guilt-ridden messes, just moments after assaults. Quick as the flip of a light switch, an apology flows from their lips, making everything better (they hope) … until that trick no longer works.
Once challenged by “take your apologies and shove it”, one of two things often happen: More aggression, or immediate breakdown of the relationship as the victimized partner leaves, once and for all.
4. The little boy still crying, “Me, me, me!”
Call it latent acceptance of one’s own homosexuality, daddy dearest rejection, or sissydom revisited, but internal masturbation of the male ego often leads to 3-year-old tantrums manifesting in a 40-year-old, gay man’s body.
Outcries via physical and verbal cruelty, more often than not are a means for getting attention, any kind of attention, good or bad. Unfortunately, someone else’s face, body, or mental wellness takes the brunt of the impact.
5. Fear of vulnerability.
The male ego is a powerful aphrodisiac—masculine, warriors, providers, leaders … none of which directly correlates with being vulnerable; all of which reek of power, control, and dominance. Vulnerability on the other hand equals weakness, confusion, and lack of direction, which are states primed to awaken the fight-or-flight instincts that deliver the powerful punch and verbal insults so often associated with gay domestic violence.
Regardless of the cause, the victim in these situations, for their own good, must ask themselves, one simple question: Are you really ready to sell your dignity out for this type of relationship?
As a gay man, you already have more crosses to bear than the average Joe. Why buckle under and allow your self-esteem to take any more blows than necessary?
Be with people who uplift you (and partner with people who love you!) not those who physically and mentally beat you down.
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