When we talk about violence in an intimate relationship, we assume that it is a man and a woman, leaving no possibility for the abuse that appears in a couple formed by two men to be “seen”, taken into account or simply exist.
Despite the large amount of studies on abuse in heterosexual couples very few exist on abuse in homosexual couples with the exception of the United States being non-existent in European countries such as Spain. All the studies carried out to date have one thing in common, violence appears with the same frequency or even more frequently than in heterosexual couples, confirming that the patterns and forms are similar, experiencing sexual, physical and/or psychological abuse over long periods of time. But they also suffer a specific type of abuse, forced outing (exposure of a couple’s sexual orientation without their consent in contexts where it is assumed that it may have negative consequences).
Taking into account all the above, the objective is to study this phenomenon in the homosexual population in Spain, as there is no study to date to confirm whether or not this problem exists in our country.
Before beginning the description of this study I would like to point out that it would not have been possible without the financing of the American association OBL(online buddies) and the participation of the Complutense University of Madrid.
Each of the participants had to complete online a series of questionnaires on socio-demographic variables and the main questionnaire in which they assessed whether they had suffered psychological, physical or sexual abuse or whether they had exercised it in their last relationship. 3172 gay men participated in this study of 1475 residing in Spain (46%) and 1697 residing in Argentina (54%). So this research is presented as the study on abuse with the highest number of participants, conducted to date in Spain and Europe, hence the importance of the results obtained.
The results confirm what was expected indicating a high prevalence of abuse in homosexual couples. With regard to victimization (see graph), 70% of the sample resident in Spain consider themselves victims of psychological aggression on the part of their partner, 26. 78% victims of physical aggression and 43. 2% of sexual aggression. With regard to execution (see graph), 65. 7%in Spain exercised psychological aggression on their partner, 23. 87% physical aggression and 38. 7% executors of sexual aggression.
REASONS FOR INVISIBILITY
Taking into account the results Why is the invisibility of abuse in these couples? Why is there no talk about this problem? Why are there hardly any studies? Many are the variables that influence this invisibility, some of the most important would be the following:
Homosexual couples are immersed in a heterosexist society. Homosexual couples live within a heterosexist society where the relationship between a man and a woman is practically the only form of relationship. The exposure of homosexual couples is minimal in the media all influenced by a subtle or not-so-subtle homophobia. All of this makes it very difficult for abuse to be a topic of discussion since it does not talk about same-sex couples in general.
Concealment of one’s own homosexual community. To admit that this problem also exists in homosexual relations would be to support the idea of homosexual couples as dysfunctional, so that the homosexual community itself in some sectors does not a greevery much in talking about this problem. These ideas should not shock the reader with what happened to the HIV pandemic when it emerged. It was first called GRID (Homosexual-relate immune-deficiency, freely translated into Spanish as immune deficiency associated with homosexuality) before officially acquiring its name in 1981, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
The silence of the victim: most of the emotions in gay men in many cases are kept secret from their childhood and in fact learn to hide their feelings of fear, pain and anger. When they enter into a couple relationship, they keep this secrecy about the abuse they suffered. Having learned to hide their feelings in childhood, in adulthood they have difficulty expressing harm, fear, anger, since expressing all those emotions can mean being abandoned. They are usually people who do not want to disturb their context and avoid conflicts. In addition to the above would be added the ignorance that what is happening is mistreatment, or think that after all it has cost to accept their relationship to admit that you suffer abuse would be like accepting the failure of all the effort made, to name a few reasons. There fore, the first response of a victim of abuse is to keep it secret, something they have learned since they were little, leading all this to increase invisibility.
Not wanting to admit that a man can be a victim for many academic sectors and society in general or that the consequences are not so serious: In many cases it is considered that the possibility of a man being a victim of abuse, supposes the end of the feminist idea that the role defines the abuser and the victim. The woman is always the victim and the man the abuser, minimizing the gravity of the abuse in a scene where the abuser is a man.
More than 70% of the participants indicate that they have been victims of psychological abuse on the part of their partner in the described investigation. In the light of these data, it is suggested that the following measures be taken:
Abuse-related laws should include homosexual couples by expanding so-called “gender-based violence”, as this in itself excludes homosexuals, who are left homeless and do not really know what to do in abusive situations.
Professionals related to abuse – judges, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, nurses, police officers – should have training related to this topic. A greater sensitivity and training to situations of violence in same-sex couples is essential, working possible prejudices and broadening the vision of the possible scene to find in a situation of abuse beyond a woman victim and a male abuser. All these training course sare already taking place in the United States, however in Spain to the knowledge of the author there is none, so if a victim seeks support in these institutions the response will be null or deficient.
On the other hand, the intervention should be not only with the victim but also with the abuser, so that he is able to recognize the dynamics of abuse he initiates and so that he can learn to resolve conflicts without violence.
The role of the media is very important in making it possible for victims to know that this type of abuse exists and the few aid programs that exist.
We cannot forget the role that thehomosexual community itself shouldhave from now on, that leaning on thisstudy and on the futures that appear, they do not see it as a new form ofstigmatizing, but as a form ofnormalizing, since the sexualorientation does not make you invulnerable before the abuse of yourpartner.
It should be noted that the exclusion of lesbian women in this research does not suggest that this phenomenon does not occur in this type of couples, but only a sample of men and no twomen was accessed, but it would be equally necessary to begin studies of relationships between women, as well as studies related to minority communities such as transsexuals, ethnic minorities within the LGBT community or studies with homosexual adolescents since in this study the participant had to be over 18 years old, but it is known that this abuse begins at an early age.
My intention with this study is to make visible a real problem as demonstrated by the results obtained and that right now is being forgotten and what is more serious is forgetting the suffering of many victims who do not know what to do or where to go. If you want to do your bit on this issue invite you to share the article you just read and raise awareness of this issue.
“The aggression in couple is a social scourge that threatens the rights and dignity of people regardless of the sexual orientation of the person. It is hoped that this work will serve to begin to investigate this phenomenon, because in our country alone almost 5,000,000 people are being “forgotten”.
For any doubt, personal comment, or to have access to the results in a more extensive way, or to other results not commented like the influence of the age, influence of the received homophobic attacks and the influence of the internalized heterosexism do not hesitate to contact you I will try to answer as soon as possible. Thank you for your involvement and cordial greetings.
Dr. Antonio Ortega López.
Psychologist, sex and couples therapist specializing in the LGTB community