Janay Palmer’s Story Happens Every Day in Our Lesbian Communities

A Mostly Comprehensive Guide For all Involved

Singer K Michelle, who was a victim of domestic violence, recently appeared in a PSA against domestic violence.

Singer K Michelle, who was a victim of domestic violence, recently appeared in a PSA against domestic violence.

By now you may have seen the video of Baltimore Raven’s football player Ray Rice punching, kicking and dragging the body of his then-fianceé Janay Palmer out of an elevator. (Janay eventually went on to marry her abuser). I have not watched the video. I didn’t need to, and I try to minimize the amount of violence I subject myself to. I haven’t had much to say about the story because others are doing a great job expressing my private thoughts. I particularly enjoyed Eric Adelson’s article posted on Yahoo Sports. In that article he talked about our culture of blaming the victim. More on that later. Janay’s story brought up some painful memories for me. I too had been involved in domestic abuse. Yes, lesbians can cause as much sickening damage as a 300-pound football player.

I had been in a long-term relationship with a woman who lacked healthy communication skills. While I was with her, I was constantly monitored, blamed, shamed, distrusted, manipulated, threatened, guilted and hit. And to top it all off, she often blamed me for her actions. She blamed my smart mouth and my daring to have a different opinion from her for our knock-down, drag-out fights. In the end, we both hurt each other. When she hit me, I hit her back. I’m not proud of this part of my life at all. And what made it worse was that most people had no clue what went on in our home.

How could they? On the surface we were two strong, well-educated, well-spoken and good-looking black women with great jobs and a nice home. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone no matter their race, gender, education level or socio-economic status. I was not poor, uneducated, with a gaggle of children and dependent on her for financial support. We didn’t need each other financially and that’s what made it easier for me to eventually leave. Don’t get me wrong, leaving was still a struggle and it did have some financial impact, but I was able to eventually leave. And even though I’ve been in other relationships since, I’m still working to rebuild my fragile sense of self worth. Abuse does not happen in a vacuum. Most abusers have been abused. I’m hoping that this article will help all those involved—abusers, potential victims, victims and friends and family—break the cycle of violence.

Click through to learn how to avoid being a victim in the first place.

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