By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s program note. In 1961 Clarence “Frogman” Henry breathed life into the old standard, “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” It was written in 1944 by Allan Roberts with music by Doris Fisher. Recorded first by The Mills Brothers it lasted 20 weeks on the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart. Over the years a bevy of top talent performed this tune which spoke to the pain that accompanies most personal relationships. We could all identify with the lyrics sung by Connie Francis, Fats Domino, The Impressions, Peggy Lee… and so many more. Even ex-Beatle Ringo Starr had a go at it in his 1970 album “Sentimental Journey.”
You’ll find this tune in all its manifestations in any search engine. Go find it now, make yourself comfortable and sing along, “You always hurt the one you love, The one you shouldn’t hurt at all.”
The domestic abuse you have hardly heard of.
This is the story of domestic abuse; where people who are supposed to be all-in- all to each other instead inflict grievous hurt on each other, acute bodily harm, terrible injuries, terrible pain, even death. It is a story that takes place every day and which goes largely unreported, unconsidered. It is the story of the abuse that does not speak its name, same-sex domestic abuse… and it is probably something you know little or even nothing about, even if you’re gay.
Basically if you’ve been following the development of gay liberation at all, you’ve seen the political wars where some jurisdictions grant folks with such orientation their basic rights (including the right to marry whomsoever they wish)… and the jurisdictions determined to block those rights and preserve marriage for some, keeping it from others. The photographs you see in the papers show, in the first place, happy gay wedding pictures as long-time couples joyously tie the knot… and the photos of zealous bigots enraged by a change which is inevitable.
The photos you don’t see, because they aren’t published are the photos of same-sex domestic abuse. And this is, to a considerable extent, because both those perpetrating the abuses… and the ones suffering them don’t want the publicity, embarrassment, and “shame” of having their sad and often dangerous stories publicized. And so abuses perpetrated, stay abuses undisclosed, unpunished, and unsolved.
And that is the reason I am writing this article; because that state of affairs is completely unacceptable.
The situation in Massachusetts, a bell weather state.
Massachusetts has the reputation of being one of a handful of socially advanced states. As a result matters buried elsewhere often come to enhanced public awareness here first. Thus, on September 5, 2011 the Boston Globe reported that since 2010 there have been seven killings as a result of domestic violence, a sharp increase from prior years when advocates reported one to three such homicides.
In August, 2011, a 47-year old man was accused of stabbing his boyfriend then burying his body beneath a porch in Winthrop. It went unheralded… and this is part of the problem.
“They’re gay, so what?”
Like it or not, many people, including police, prosecutors, and judges, lack the sensitivity and training to help gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. Their attitudes can range from complete indifference to marked hostility, along the lines of “they’re just queers anyway so what does it matter? They just got what was coming to them.” Nice.
The consequences can be disastrous as lax officials, their minds clearly not on the matter at hand, fail to provide assistance. Who is the batterer? Who needs the help? Authorities go through the motions, but the end result is that the batterers go unpunished and victims suffer accordingly.
Police understanding and sensitivity would help.
Just a few years ago, police departments everywhere were charged with arresting gays and disrupting what was seen as a community menace. Since then laws have changed, but not necessarily attitudes. Thus, when advocates attempt to increase police empathy, they have found police attitudes unhelpful. But until police are more adept at dealing with same-sex domestic violence, batterers have the advantage… and they know it. Thus batterers are given a virtual carte blanche for heinous deeds by careless authorities. The solution to this problem begins with official recognition that there is a problem, then training authorities to help get it
Listen to advocates.
Boston specifically and Massachusetts generally are in the forefront of jurisdictions where same-sex domestic abuse assistance is available. Such assistance is available from the following organizations:
- Fenway Health Violence Recovery Program
- Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project
- The Network/LaRed
- Safelink (Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline)
- Jane Doe, Inc., Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.
(For complete current contact details, go to any search engine.)
These organizations are a fountainhead of timely, specific, valuable information on identifying abusers and their victims (not always easy to do) as well as specific things police should be looking for. Here is just some of what they recommend:
- Don’t assume two same-sex people living together are just room mates. That assumption removes whatever benefits and protection exist.
- Look at how the residence is set up. Is there just one bedroom? One bed? If so, the residents are more likely to be a couple, whatever they may initially say.
- How are finances handled? If one person (often the batterer) controls finances and practical matters the residents are more likely to be in a same-sex domestic situation.
Police and courts need the assistance of advocates and specialized service organizations because both batterers and the people they batter lie about their situations; batterers because they are guilty, the battered because they rightly fear retribution for anything they may say or do.
Adding to the difficulties which exist in all domestic abuse matters is this: victims eschew the truth because they fear their sexual identity will be exposed if they report the outrage. Again, this leaves them vulnerable to batterers, who know this and use this fact to control and further hurt the victims. This difficult problem is readily apparent from the latest abuse statistics: Of the 2,326 domestic violence cases that are before Middlesex County prosecutors so far this year, only 50 of the victims reported they were gay. In Boston, advocates provided services to more than 4,000 victims, but only 73 of them identified themselves as gay.
Let’s be clear. This isn’t good enough, even in progressive jurisdictions. But let’s also recognize things are better now, particularly in those jurisdictions, than they were even a few short years ago.
Thus, in due course, “You always hurt the one you love” will be simply a catchy lyric belted out in her inimitable style by Connie Francis instead of a declaration of fact and harmful purpose.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books and considered a Home Business Expert.
Republished with author’s permission by Graham Lee – The Income Zone
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