Abuse and Violence in Queer Relationships

Something on Twitter triggered me, it was a thread about the title of this post. It prompted me to take a moment out of the usual violence we face from outsiders and take a look within.

A few years back a friend was in one of those #RelationshipGoals relationships everyone aspired to have. They had broken social constructs in a time when it was still rare for a queer couple to be living together, back then former President Mbeki had not even made the civil union law, so it was a vat n sit without the benefits. Years after the relationship my friend would tell of the ordeal that was 2 years of his life at the hands of his lover. Abuse and violence in queer relationships is not that far away from hetero relationships, in fact a lot of the time it stems from the heteronormative model we live from. It’s mostly the dominant who almost always wants to stay dominant that initiates it to the more submissive in the relationship. It happens because of a number of reasons, most which we will never know because most of these go unreported.

There are 2 reasons that come to mind as to why queers never report these horrendous crimes. One of these reasons is one that was mentioned in the thread. We have a need to showcase our relationships as perfect to the world. We do this so that we have one less thing to be harassed about. Our relationships must be perfect so that they have no ammunition against us on the relationship front when we advocate for the right to marry (even though the hetero model leaves much to be desired). So we stomach what we think are the little things and put on a happy face to the world because at the very least they can see we are capable of being ‘happy.’ This is very dangerous as it causes the queer community to let so many perpetrators within our community get away with so much. They are shielded because they belong under the queer umbrella. They have free reign and they know this so they do as they please, and our brothers and sisters get caught in this.

The other reason is the South African Police Services (SAPS) which has proven time and time again to be non-receptive towards LGBTQI domestic issues. Yesterday I told of an ordeal a friend went through at the hands of the SAPS when reporting his boyfriend who was beating him up (in front of the complex security officer may I add). When he approached a SAPS van and told of his ordeal, he was greeted with the ‘how can two men date’ question and the van proceeded on its way. There are many cases like his, one time when a man went to report his boyfriend beating him up police officers asked him why he was being such a sissie, this was not abuse but a fight between two men. The SAPS is ill equipped to deal with LGBTQI cases and its time we held them to account.

So what is the way forward, how do we hold these abusers who hide under the queer umbrella into account? They march among us. They cheer with us. But their lovers are not safe. Let us clean house and rid our community of these people. No one wants to march amongst their abusers. Queers, I say we must not tire. Let us brave the humiliation as difficult as it is and report and follow up on these cases. My friend ran away from his lover, meaning that an unsuspecting soul is about to be his new victim. That is both frightening and sad. Let us stop the cycle.

Sivuyile Mtshemla