The #MeToo movement has helped shed light on sexual assault in all its forms. But, what about domestic violence? This month we’ll be talking about a form of assault that is probably much more common than you think among gay and bi men. Why talk about this now? Because it’s one of the hardest times of year for people suffering from spousal abuse.
I was a victim of domestic violence in my twenties. By the time I left him I was isolated from almost all of my friends and the violence was getting physical. The signs were there from the beginning. He was obsessive. He was insanely jealous. He was extremely controlling, often bullying me into looking the way he wanted. I complied to avoid constant belittling.
Abusive spouses often obsess over their partners, but demean them as a means of control. At the beginning I found the attention flattering. He was a very bright guy. I’d known him for a while. One thing led to another one day and we slept together. The connection was good and we started dating. It became obvious pretty quickly that he had a bad temper but it never seemed to be aimed at me. I can’t remember exactly when that changed. It was probably a subtle shift that happened over time.
Eventually things started to get violent. One night we were out with a group of friends for drinks. We ran into a guy I had dated. When my boyfriend saw us he went into a rage and stormed out of the bar. I went out after him a few minutes later. He was nowhere to be seen so I decided to go home.
When I got there he was looking through my drawers. I confronted him. He shoved me. I shoved back and told him to calm down. He walked out and came back an hour later, calm, and very apologetic. It was an isolated incident so I left it alone.
Things slowly escalated from there. He set my journals on fire in the tub. He cut up a toy a good friend had given me and thew pieces at me out the window after a fight. How could I not have known? He had me convinced it was y fault. If only I could do as he said, be the quiet obedient partner, then everything would be OK. I gave him no choice. The words feel ridiculous as I write them but the stereotype is true. This is how domestic violence works, regardless of gender.
I endured, trying to find ways to limit the violence which had started getting physical. Then one day a very close friend who was still in my life witnessed him jump me and start pounding on my back. We ran out of the apartment and I was forced to come clean. I made a plan and left. I’m lucky I did.
I’m owning this story because I want everyone to see the signs and understand that it isn’t their fault. Abuse emotional, or physical, is not acceptable. If you see the signs, even if you only think there’s a chance they might escalate, leave. The only way you will get the perspective you need to see what’s going on is if you get out. From there decide if you’re in a safe, loving, relationship. Don’t wait until he does something. It might be too late.