Abuse. It’s a tiny word for such an enormous thing. And it’s a word that we rarely find used to describe behavior within same-gender relationships. As queer women who are put down by the rest of the world on a daily basis, it’s really scary to think about one of our own committing the same abusive acts as the people who oppress our community. The legal system often doesn’t recognize our abusive relationships as such, and we often don’t have access to the resources we need to get help. It can feel like there’s nowhere to turn, and asking for help is so, so hard. But people are people, and we need to talk about the way we treat each other and how we hold each other accountable.
Olivia Q at the Hairpin writes,
The day my girlfriend and I broke up for the fifth and final time was the day Barack Obama announced that he supported gay marriage. I let out a laugh that was more like a bark, took a Xanax, and slept on and off for the next two days. My friends brought me water and pizza, sat next to me in front of television shows I don’t remember.
The next week was akin to rising up in an airplane above a city in which you have lived for a while, and suddenly understanding the shape of it — the curve of the coast or the sinewy motion of a river, the grid of streets. As I began to feel human, I resumed eating. In our kitchen, my roommate said to me, “You’re coming back. You’ve gotten loud again.”
I hadn’t realized I’d been quiet for so long.
I am not normally afraid of words, but I was afraid of this one. I was so afraid of it, I lied to my friends, my teachers, my no-nonsense therapist.
Abuse. Abuse. Abuse. Even the syllables sound ugly, debased. Even my friends who knew something was wrong couldn’t say it. “Something is not right.” “I’m not sure what’s happening is entirely healthy.” “I just wanted to make sure the thing I overheard is something that’s being addressed in your relationship and is not considered normal.”
The further away I got, the clearer it became. She had been my first serious girlfriend after a succession of boyfriends, and I was more in love than I had ever been before. But the relationship stretched and accommodated behavior I likely would have never taken from a man…
Read the rest at the Hairpin, and please share your thoughts with us. The more we talk about abuse in our community, the less stigma it has. And the more we can educate ourselves and each other about what is and what isn’t a healthy relationship, the stronger and happier we can all be.