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Violence Against Women: Have We Forgotten to think of Same-Sex Violence too?
We stand for women's rights for safety but not enough are talking about same-sex violence too.
Stop ignoring this problem too.
This year I spent Valentine’s Day on my couch, sick and alone. That didn’t bother me, but missing out on the flash-mob for One Billion Rising really did. V-day has been transformed into a day of power for women. It’s our turn to take control, to say no and I here I was, all alone, unable to add my voice to those who were rising.
As I indulged in trash TV, ice cream, and self-pity, I was struck. All these voices calling out to end violence against women and likely very few of them are thinking of female-on-female sexual assault or domestic violence too?
Last year, I probably wouldn’t have thought of it either. Gay women have a stereotype of being safe; why not, after all they are women too, shouldn't they be as concerned about as I? I certainly was taught that I could drop my shield as I was as I moved around in the lesbian community. I had never been put in a position of powerlessness in any lesbian encounter I had until last spring.
It took a few weeks after my assault to realize that there was a name for what had happened to me, date rape. It hadn’t occurred to me until I was telling a friend the story. As the phrases “too drunk,” “couldn’t stop her,” “had to yell ‘no’ several times and push her off of me,” came out of my mouth I knew what I was saying but I did not really understand it, even then. The image we have about lesbians does not include ones who violate you.
It took a little bit for me to sober up enough to be able to yell and get her to stop. And then I felt so stupid. Stupid and angry.
In no heterosexual context would I be sleeping over on a first date just because I didn’t feel like driving home, but with another woman, another gay woman at that, it felt fine. Except that it wasn’t. I had betrayed everything I knew about keeping myself safe simply because I was with a woman and in return my body was violated.
Mine isn’t the only story. Marie* was in a relationship for over a year with one woman, Dominique*. Shortly after they began dating, her partner became controlling and abusive. Marie felt like she was totally trapped, unable to escape, as night after night she was forced to have sex with her “partner.”
Her story broke my heart as she talked about the look in Dominique's eyes, how if she wanted it Marie had to perform no matter how much pain she was in, how Marie could not participate in sexual activities, even with a trusted partner. She lost relationships over her struggle.
It took Marie a year after the relationship ended before she could talk about it out loud and even longer to have the courage to call it rape.
The statistics show it: domestic violence is as prevalent in same-sex relationships as in opposite sex ones (http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/gay.shtml). This includes sexual violence.
It’s hard to find statistics about same-sex assault by a stranger. I tried. I have a friend who has been assaulted twice by unknown women. Who knew? Only those who have been through it. Radio silence does nothing to help anybody.
Now I add my voice to One Billion Rising.
*Names have been changed
Your Experience with Same-Sex Violence and Assault
What, if any, has your experience regarding same-sex violence and assault been?
© 2014 M. OH