Gay or straight: Abuse is never OK

Brent’s struggles after getting out of an abusive relationship have been a big theme on this season of GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS. If you, or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, the Anti-Violence Project is here to help.

Abuse is never OK, but it happens –- one out of every four LGBTQ relationships is abusive. We know it happens, so we have to know what to do about it. Violent relationships can be hard to talk about. We don’t want to tell our friends that our partner is controlling. It’s embarrassing, scary, shameful. It’s isolating too –- it can feel like even if we did want to talk about it, no one will listen or believe us. Sometimes we turn to drugs to cope. Sometimes we try unsuccessfully to convince our partner to stop. Sometimes we think it’s our fault and we have to change to make it stop.

At the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), we know that you are not alone –- and that you do have options. There is somewhere to go if you or someone you love is in a violent relationship. There are people who understand. If you or a friend or family member needs help, here are some things you can do.

First, break the silence. Let’s stop treating intimate partner violence like it is just a lover’s quarrel and begin to address it as the public health issue that it is. For those of you who like statistics, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) puts out a report about what this violence is and how it happens in the United States –- read up! Don’t be afraid to ask your friends or family members, in a safe, confidential way, if they are OK, if they feel safe with their partner, if they are scared, and if they need help.

Second, when someone you know says “I’m afraid of my partner,” believe them. Tell them that you care about them, support them and want to help. Tell them no one should feel scared of their partner and that there are things they can do to stay safe. Tell them that you can help them find help if that’s what they want –- and reach out to NCAVP resources in or near your area.

Third, get support for yourself as you’re trying to help your friends: sometime we may have a hard time supporting someone who is struggling with how to deal with a relationship that may be violent. But remember, you don’t have to have all the answers. You, too, can reach out for support. It’s a hard thing to deal with intimate partner violence for ourselves and those we love –- and none of us can, or should, do it alone. We are just a phone call away –- and we’re here for you 24 hours a day.

Finally, if you have the time and the inclination –- join the fight to end violence and promote safe and healthy relationships! Volunteer at your local anti-violence program. AVP’s volunteers are some of the most fun, creative, inspiring folks we know, so not only are you making the world safer for everyone, but you’re bound to make some great friends while you’re doing it!