going to try to shorten this as much as possible
so that I can get to my point without writing
a book! Six years ago, I entered a long-term relationship
with a woman who I believed was kind and loving.
After a year, she changed. She became horribly
violent. She beat me at least three times a week
and I became so black and blue that I didn't want
to leave my house anymore. Having never been an
abuse victim, I was immobilized with fear and
pain. She threatened me and told me that if I
tried to leave, she'd kill me. So I stayed for
almost three more years, too scared to tell anyone
what was happening to me.
the end, she almost killed me. She had strangled
me and left me to die on the street. I reasoned
that I would inevitably die if I stayed with her,
so I went to court and requested a protection
order hearing thinking that if I left, at least
I would have a chance. The commissioner on our
case reviewed my medical records and granted me
a five-year protection order. She was ordered
not to call me, contact me through other people,
or come within 500 of feet of me.
she has violated that order repeatedly in the
year that I have had it. The police have been
wonderful and patient at the numerous calls. They
tell me to call every time she does something,
even if I can't prove it's her, so they can document
the harassment. Whenever the police think I have
compelling evidence, I take her to court. But
the judge (not the one who gave me the court order)
keeps throwing my cases out. It's MY fault that
I answered the phone when she called (I have caller
ID and know when it is her). He felt that if I
knew it was her, I was welcoming the threats and
harassment by answering. And he thinks I should
ignore her emails and not worry when she is driving
by my house (I live on a side street that she
would never need to use). Of course, I can't prove
that she is trashing my car even though I have
a recording of her saying that she was going to
do it. There are too many things to mention, and
all of them scare the hell out of me, but are
trivial to the judge.
I got away from my ex, I was trained as an advocate
for battered woman and now I work at the local
shelter. I help abused woman face their abusers
in court, as advocates have done for me many times.
What gets to me is that most straight woman win
cases like mine, which is good, I want them to
win. It just bothers me so deeply because I think
he is treating me differently because I am a lesbian.
I don't think he is taking my situation seriously.
guess I'm not writing to you to seek answers.
They just aren't there yet. But I believe that
answers can evolve from the experience of women
in my situation if we tell our stories and bring
about awareness. It isn't widely believed or accepted
that a lesbian would batter her female partner,
but the reality is that lesbians have the same
risk of being abused by their intimate partners
as do heterosexuals. Somehow, people need to know
this. I guess I'm telling you all this because
you seem to be a one-woman database storing and
processing all the issues that face the woman
of America! Maybe you do have an answer. I really
don't know what can be done to stop the violence,
all I know is that I don't want to whisper about
for listening and for all the wonderful work you
for refusing to whisper. If less people stayed
silent I honestly believe that there would be
less violence. I recently had an experience that
reminded of your situation. I was visiting a high
school in northern California and I asked what
issues they experienced at their school. The biggest
issue was girls fighting and the fact that no
one stopped them. We concluded that people didn't
stop them because the perception is that two girls
fighting can't do as much damage as two guys or
a guy and girl. I think your judge has been subjected
to this same line of thinking.
are several programs out there - many pioneered
by the Family
Violence Prevention Fund, which is based in
San Francisco - that are training judges for precisely
this reason. Judges often don't understand how
issues have evolved - or how they have always
existed. Perhaps getting in touch with them would
lead you to some resource about an existing program
in your area or even about how to start such a
program in your area.
I was recently in Madison, WI and asked a group
what the biggest issues in their community were.
Lesbian battering was the most frequent response.
And within this, the precise problem was the silence
around it. So I think that work you are doing
is resonating with work in other parts of the
country. Also, in New York City there is The
New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.
I hope these suggestions lead you to greater answers
and to safety
care and thanks again for speaking up.