Domestic violence is a fight for control over one’s significant others thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors to punish the partner for resisting one’s control. It’s a game of fear and intimidation. The Domestic Violence Legal Definition (1995) is “any assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another who is or was residing in the same single dwelling unit” (Title XLIII, Chapter 741, Statute 741. 28). Domestic violence is a worldwide issue, not only among heterosexual couples but also among homosexual couples.
When people think of domestic violence they mostly think of a woman being beaten by a man. Even a women being beat by another women is acknowledged, but a man beating a man is an issue that is often ignored. There are many forms of abuse that take place throughout these relationships besides the obvious physical abuse. Often times this abuse is thought as a direct result of substance abuse within the relationship. The topic of my paper is domestic violence among gay couples and the correlation of substance abuse.
Domestic violence is the third largest health problem facing gay men today, right behind substance abuse and AIDS. Domestic violence victims of the homosexual communities are not only ignored by the general public, the government, and law enforcement. But they are often times ignored by their own gay communities. According to Island and Letellier (1991), gay men are less likely to report the abuse and more likely to stay with their partner because of homophobia, heterosexism, and ignorance in the community regarding domestic violence as well as homosexuality.
Many gay communities choose to be ignorant of the fact that it is going on because they believe that if you’re willing to stay in the relationship then it is your own fault for the abuse that is occurring. In heterosexual couples, it is assumed that the man is the abuser in 95% of the time. This probability is greater among homosexual couples because both partners in the relationship are male, therefore giving them the double the chance of one or both men are abusers or may become one.
Between heterosexual and homosexual men one is not more violent than the other when it comes to domestic violence (Dutton, 1995; Island ; Letellier, 1991; Walker, 2000). When dealing with domestic violence you come in contact with several different types of abuse. There’s psychological abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Physical abuse occurs when one hits, scratches, chokes, kicks, pushes, slaps, punches, or uses a weapon against another.
Psychological abuse also known as Emotional abuse occurs when one ridicules, insults, blames, humiliates, criticizes, ignores another purposefully, withholds approval or affection, threatens to leave or harm someone or their children, interrupting sleep, manipulating with lies, and continually finding fault with another. Lastly sexual abuse can include raping, exhibiting jealousy, accusing the partner of affairs, treating the partner as a sex object, withholding sex, using sexual names, having affairs, and coercing the partner sexually. Walker,2000). According to an over the phone interview study that was conducted through the years 1996-1998 in four different cities across the United States, researchers found that over a 5 year span, 34% of the urban homosexual couples in our study experienced psychological/symbolic abuse, 22. 0% experienced physical abuse, and 5. 1% experienced sexual abuse. Some type of battering victimization was reported by 39. 2% of the respondents, with 18. 2% reporting being beat multiple times within the 5 year span alotted (G. L. Greenwood, 2001).
According to Walker (2000), many people believe that drinking, drugs, and stress are what cause a person to beat on their significant other. Yet the fact remains that people under the influence of either drugs or alcohol are not the reason for battery but just an extra push. Although in some cases of domestic violence there has been an abuse disorder present, professionals acknowledge that battery was not a result of using alcohol and drugs. That doesn’t mean that the abuser nor the victim of these domestic violence cases do not blame the reason of the abuse on being under the influence (Bennett, 1995; Dakis, 1995; Walker, 2000).
The use of illicit drugs is a high factor in the gay community. Due to homophobia, alienation, and isolation of gay men may contribute to their alcohol and drug consumption. People tend to consume substances when they have experienced depression and loss or have become isolated from society. Lastly alot of their free time is often spent in bars or other social situations where drinking is a main “attraction”. These are all factors of domestic violence cases among gay couples (Renzetti, 1992).
It’s well understood that most young adults will have tried alcohol or drugs at least once during their youth, young gay males between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to have had a lifetime of illicit drug use as opposed to their heterosexual peers. Many of these young gay men use drugs for the same reasons as their heterosexual peers many professionals are lead to believe that young gay men turn to substance abuse to deal with rejection, social isolation, and self confusion with their own sexual orientation.
Also a factor in the result of substance abuse is wanting to hide who they are and their sexual orientation from friends and family members and are possibly in denial because they are ashamed (D’Augelli & Herschberger, 1993; Harper &Schneider, 2003; Meyer, 2003; Savin-Williams, 1990). This is what starts the substance abuse trend in the gay community, rather than feeling alone in their situation they seek acceptance. Many find this acceptance in gay bars which have an unlimited access to alcohol and illicit substances.
Other high risk factors that associate with high drug use among young gay men include childhood sexual abuse, a stressful life event, gay discrimination, and involvement in gay related social events (Rosario et al. , 2004). Though these studies have been conducting in small samples the evidence suggests that exposure to discrimination and physical abuse can later on lead to health problems in adulthood such as HIV infection, depression, and substance abuse which can later lead to partner abuse (Eriedman, Marshal, Stall, Cheong, & Wright, 2008).
Although there has been a link established between experiences of social discrimination and the association among intimate partner violence, histories of childhood sexual abuse, and HIV risk with the adult gay populations, less is known about the impact these experiences have On young gay men’s sexual health in general and their drug use behaviors in particular. This leads me into the idea of substance abuse and its correlation to domestic violence in a gay relationship.
Substance abuse has been associated with less marital stability, relationship distress, dysfunctional communication, and lack of desire for intimacy. When receiving rehabilitation treatment, relationships improved. A study was conducted in the year 2005 by a group of professors to decide whether or not drug abuse was a leading factor to the cause of domestic violence among the gay community and how it impacted their relationship. The study was done on gay couples who had been together for at least four months, were between the ages of 20 and 63, and one of the partners must be HIV positive and the other HIV negative.
There were 117 couples which include two thirds of the study being white, 19% being of latin decent, and 11% being African American. Within this study they found that 79% of the men had used alcohol compared to the 35% for marijuana and 15% for cocaine within the last two months before the study was conducted. 25% of the couples consisted of both partners using the drug marijuana. On the other hand 55% of the couples reported that neither one of them had used the drug. 8% of the couples reported no use of cocaine among both partners, while 8% reported use among both partners. Statistics among both HIV positive and HIV negative participants were close in range. Within the study they found that substance abuse mainly affected the aspect of domestic violence. Within all the other aspects there were slightly negative impacts which resulted in poor quality relationships. Cocaine had a more negative impact then both marijuana and alcohol (Greenwood G, 2005).
This study proves that substance abuse has a direct correlation with domestic violence among gay couples. Though it is a small contribution it still contributes to an unhealthy relationship. Domestic violence can come in many different forms such as physical, psychological and sexual abuse. All these abuse types are no worse than the other. Though we as a general population don’t acknowledge the fact that within gay couples there is domestic violence present does not change the fact that it is still happening.
Because of the fact that men are 95% of the time the abusers in a heterosexual relationship, then in a homosexual relationship you have double the chance of one of the two partners being an abuser. This results in unlhealthy relationships among gay couples. Substance abuse has been a copping with homosexuality and the discrimination that comes along with it for young gay men, this leads into substance abuse which then carries onto your adult life and your relationships that you may enter. Substance abuse among gay couples does ot only affect the person that is using but it also affects their significant other. Drug and alcohol abuse in the gay community have been to blame for domestic violence, according to the research I have given you in the above paragraphs this has proven to be somewhat accurate. Drugs and alcohol give you courage that you wouldn’t normally have when you are sober which allows you to become an abuser. All of these give you incite to domestic violence in the gay community and its correlation to substance abuse.