Domestic violence ‘hits’ GLBT community

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People don’t like to speak about it, but according to statistics, roughly 30 percent of GLBT couples experience domestic violence.

While this is roughly the same percentage as heterosexual relationships, it is thought this statistic is underreported since many people in the GLBT community are not aware services are available to them or may not wish to report to the authorities.

Lamonte Anderson is one person who is speaking out.

“Until I went through this I didn’t realize how much same-sex domestic violence occurs,” said Anderson. He hopes his speaking out will help others in similar circumstances.

Anderson’s relationship started out like any other.

“I met him on the job at a local hotel. We started dating and then we decided to get into a relationship – and everything was great at first. After dealing with so many other gay men, I thought I had met the right one. He would say the right things, do the right things, our interests were the same. I found myself within a few months falling really very deeply in love. The expressions from him verbally, text messaging, emails was the same.”

This is quite common in the beginning according to Dr. Carol Gipson, crisis counseling supervisor for the Domestic Violence Division of the Metro Police Department.

“The first stage is the romancing stage," Gipson explained. "There is the old love at first sight, perfect, Mr. Right. This ends as soon as the relationship establishes a degree of ‘permanency,’ such as buying a house together, moving in together, adopting a child or pet together. It is a progressive pattern: insults, yelling throwing things, then the violence starts.”

It is hard to see the pattern when you are in the situation.

“When you are in love, or at least you think you are in love, you put up with a lot of things. He was very controlling. He was so controlling, and I was so used to him controlling me, he would make me do things sexually,” said Anderson.

Those sexual things cannot be described here, but they were outside the norm, and things Anderson was averse to doing.

“My relationship was with a local black minister," Anderson said. "I didn’t realize that this issue of homosexuality was a big deal in the black church. Him being a minister, he started explaining to me that this was not widely accepted and we would have to keep this a secret. He attended one of the largest mega churches here in Nashville. We kinda worked through it, and I respected it, though I didn’t agree with it. It became a very big issue.”

In the African American community, there is an additional phenomenon that adds to the complexities.

“We have this thing among African-American community which we call down low or DL and (my ex) considers himself as DL. Calling him a homosexual is like fighting words,” said Anderson.

As the relationship progressed, Anderson ended up financially supporting the minister.

“He lost his job, and I started financially taking care of him. I mean paying his bills, rent, car note, car insurance, buying his clothes. We’re talking $1,500 to $2,000 a month," Anderson said.

Still being on the DL, the minister also was dating women.

“My concern with that was because our relationship had grown to a point where we were having sex but not using protection," he said. "Then I found out he was also having sex with the women, and he was also not using protection with them.”

Anderson said that after his partner was caught by one woman, he promised to never do it again. This promise was not kept. He continued to sleep with women and other pastors unprotected, which led to the minister contracting several STDs.

After all this, Anderson finally got the courage to leave.

“I asked him to come over one afternoon so I could end the relationship, so we could just be friends. He didn’t want to end the relationship because of the financial support. I didn’t want any more of the secrets or any of that. He got very verbal. He was cursing and making threats. I asked him to leave and he refused to leave. I went to call 911," Anderson explained. "That’s when he picked up an umbrella right by the door and started beating me over the head. Before I knew it I had cuts all over my face and head. He finally left. I had already called 911, they didn’t get there ‘til after he left. They did the report. About a week later I got a call from someone from Domestic Violence (Division of the Metro Police Department) wanting to know where they could locate him. I said we hadn’t talked and I would rather just let it go. I found out there was a state law that they couldn’t let it go because it was domestic violence. They ended up arresting him on a charge of aggravated assault.”           

“I got an order of protection against him. About a month later he filed a police report claiming that I called him wanting to get back together. I had to spend money to get my phone records pulled to show that it wasn’t true. I said this was too much, and I wound up hiring an attorney. Finally, the last time we went to court, the DA stood up and said that they were going to retire the charges as long as they didn’t bother me anymore and he stayed out of trouble. This upset me because they didn’t discuss it with me, because I was supposed to be a part of any decisions to be made. When it all boils down to it, they said they were looking for cases that financially they could pursue, and they didn’t think they could pursue this.”

“Somehow, The Tennessean got a hold of him being arrested on a felony. The Tennessean had done several stories building his ministry up. When they found out he had been arrested on assault, not only just assault but a same sex domestic violence charge, they were very interested. That became a big mess because I started to get calls from a lot of friends and family who didn’t know about my sexuality. The newspaper not only outed him, but me.”

“I do think that if it is violence in a same sex relationship that sometimes those victims have more trouble accessing services because of biases that people might have,” said Kathy England Walsh, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “I think it is the same way for a person of color for example. There are more layers they have to go through.”

“What upset me the most is that I don’t feel the court took this seriously. Until I went through this I didn’t realize how much same sex domestic violence occurs. I tried to talk to local black churches about this. A lot of the black church leaders wouldn’t talk about it because they were DL themselves.”       

There are places that can help in times of need. If you or someone you love is a victim or you feel like you may be victimizing someone, the YWCA crisis line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (615) 242-1199 in the Metro Nashville area and 1-800-334-4628 everywhere else. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.