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About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (April 1, 1988)
A SOCIAL ANALYSIS
Just one of thirteen
classes offered this
term at the Red Rose
School. Call 2 3 0 -0 4 8 8
w i* * »
Violence on the rise
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Physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse constitutes
domestic violence. It is not limited to married couples, but
includes co-habitants, lovers, parents and children. Neither
is it limited to one sexual lifestyle.
H A R O L D
M O O R E
he incidence of sexual assault and domestic
violence in the United States is on the rise.
According to current figures, 50 percent of
all relationships encounter at least one act of
violence in the form of domestic or sexual abuse.
And yet, a study by the Harvard Journal on
Legislation reported that 70 percent of police
officers interviewed said they completed
written reports on fewer than 20 percent of
domestic violence cases. 13 percent said they
never reported domestic violence.
According to Mary Li, volunteer coordinator
for Portland Women’s Crisis Line and co-facili
tator of a support group for battered lesbians,
the figures currently on record for reported acts
of sexual violence in the community as a whole
can be extrapolated into gay and lesbian context
using the 10 percent Kinsey figure.
Although Li works primarily with male-
female incidents of violence, she reports that
domestic violence and sexual assaults between
women are not uncommon. But it’s almost im
possible to find statistics which indicate that
domestic violence is also on the rise in the gay
and lesbian communities because records are
not kept for these subgroups.
“ At the Women’s Crisis Line we deal with
the issue of violence, no matter what the specif
ics,” Li said. “ Violence in a relationship, out
side a relationship, anywhere, is violence. Our
staff is trained to deal with the issue of oppres
sion and is taught to deal with gay and lesbian
issues just as they are introduced to the issues of
racism, traditional sexism or any other of the
circumstantial issues that are involved in the
real issue — violence.
“ Psychological, verbal and physical/sexual
abuse are all violent. When the victim steps
away, for just a moment, that breaks the
silence. It is then that the chain of violence, in
that life, can be dealt with,” Li continued.
“ The difficulty with a gay man reporting
rape, domestic violence or other abuse is com
pounded by society's demand that men not be
victims of power assaults. Plus, both men and
women in gay and lesbian relationships are re
luctant to identify themselves as homosexual
because jobs, families and lifestyles many
times depend on a person's sexuality remaining
Physical, mental, emotional and sexual
abuse constitutes domestic violence. It is not
limited to married couples, but includes co
habitants, lovers, ex-spouses or ex-boyfriends,
ex-girlfriends, parents and children. Neither is
it limited to one sexual lifestyle.
Mary Li reports that persons calling the
Crisis hot line frequently attempt to hide the
non-traditional nature of the relationship in
which the violence is occurring. Even in the act
of coming forward and taking action against a
violent situation, gays and lesbians find it dif
ficult to be free with the facts. “ Only after the
victim has become clear that we are here to
help, not to judge, do we hear the facts as they
really are,” Li said.
Victims often blame themselves for causing
abusive situations and feel that they “ deserve
it.” Gradually they find themselves accepting
more and more of the responsibility for the
increasing violence. They feel that the only
need is to meet some set of nebulous expecta
tions in order to earn approval of the abuser and
to avoid more violence. In effect, violence be
comes the norm.
Economic dependence, lack of alternative
living arrangements, lack of job skills, fear that
the partner will not be able to survive alone and
fear of life change all argue against stepping
away from the abusive situation.
Yet reality speaks a frightening truth. Violent
behavior does not stop on its own. It escalates.
The only real solution to immediate threats, a
single act or a continuing scenario of abuse or
violence, is to withdraw, somehow, from the
Mary Li stated emphatically, “ Violence is
the problem of the perpetrator. If you are being
victimized by these crimes, know, no matter
what, that the perpetrator must take full
responsibility for the behavior. And finally, call
us. Call us collect if you must. But call.”
The issue of violence among gay men
remains grossly unreported. The need for
communitywide education and resource develop
ment is critical. Men are encouraged to use the
resources available at the Women’s Crisis Line.
Perhaps in the future, as the need for services
grows, the community, gay and straight, will
accept the truth: Violence is something we can
do something about.
The Portland Women’s Crisis Line operates
24 hours, every day, at 235-5333.
law book available
ational Gay Rights Advocates and the
National Lawyers Guild have updated
and expanded their book on AIDS-related legal
issues The second edition of the AIDS Practice
more money and more legal resources than
Manual includes chapters on wills and trusts,
those who stand up for the rights of people with
public benefits, employment, insurance,
AIDS and ARC,” said NGRA executive director
housing, nursing homes, criminal law. prisons,
Jean O ’Leary. “ Because of this, it’s essential
child custody, the military, immigration and
for attorneys who are fighting discrimination to
taxes as well as key medical and legal docu
have access to the best information available.
ments, surveys, and sample forms for lawyers
That’s why we published the manual.”
to use when dealing with the special problems
The AIDS Practice Manual: A Legal and
of people with AIDS and related conditions.
Educational Guide can be purchased for $35
* ’The manual offers the most up-to-date legal
($25 for NGRA members) from NGRA, 540
information available, as well as strategic
Castro St., San Francisco, CA 94114. The
pointers for attorneys,” said Benjamin Schatz.
book was edited by Paul Albert of the National
director of NGRA's AIDS Civil Rights Project
Lawyers Guild AIDS Network; Leonard
“ We've made a great effort to ensure that our
Graff. NGRA's legal director: and Benjamin
legal information is not slanted toward any one
Schatz. NGRA is a California-based public-
state or region, so that it will be helpful to
interest law firm that has played a leadership
attorneys throughout the country.”
role in defending the rights of people with AIDS
Too often, those who discriminate have
and related conditions.